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Washington Employee Rights

Washington Employee Rights

This article will highlight some of the most important Washington Employee Rights

Washington Employee Rights: Minimum Wage

Washington’s minimum wage laws apply to workers in both agricultural and non-agricultural positions. Those under the age of the majority may be paid 85% of the Washington minimum wage level. As of 2012, the Washington minimum wage is $9.04. This level is the highest in the United States. The majority of states hover around the federal minimum wage level, which is $7.25

Washington Employee Rights: Overtime & Exemptions

The majority of Washington workers who earn an hourly wage and work beyond 40 hours in a 7-day work week are required—by Washington Employee Rights—must be paid overtime. When providing overtime, a business is required to pay at least one and one-half times the employee’s regularly hourly rate. Washington employee rights declare that businesses are required to pay this rate. A business may not have to pay overtime to some workers who, by Washington employee rights, are deemed exempt. To observe a list of exempt workers please visit here

Washington Employee Rights: Breaks & Schedules 

What are the meal and break period requirements for workers over the age of 18?

• WA employee Rights: A worker must be given a paid rest period of at least 10 minutes for each 4-hour shift worked

• WA employee Rights: The rest period must be provided no later than the end of the third hour of the shift

• WA employee Rights: Rest periods allow a worker to take a break from his/her job function; during this time, the worker can do whatever they wish, so long as it complies with the policies the business has established within the employment contract

• If the worker takes part in a 5-hour shift:

o WA employee Rights: The worker must be given at least a 30 minute meal period

o WA employee Rights: The worker must be at least two hours into the shift before the meal period is allowed to start

o WA employee Rights: The meal time cannot start beyond 5 hours after the start of the shift

• WA employee Rights: Businesses—based on Washington employee rights—are not required to pay for meal periods if their employees are free from any duties for the duration of their meal period

• WA employee Rights: Employees must be compensated during their meal period when:

o They are allowed or required to remain on duty

o They are on-call at the designated worksite 

o They are called back to duty during their meal break even though they typically are not on call during said time

• WA employee Rights: There are no restrictions regarding how and when workers are schedules. A company has the right to alter a worker’s schedule at any time, without notice. Companies are not required—according to Washington employee rights—holidays or weekends off

• WA employee Rights: A company may add or alter duties performed by employees at any time

• WA employee Rights: “hours worked” refers to all hours during which the employee is authorized by the company to be on the job site or at a prescribed area of work. This may include travel, meeting and training time or on-call, waiting and time for putting on and removing uniforms. 

Washington Employee Rights: Pay Requirements

Washington Employee Rights Regarding Getting Paid:

• WA employee Rights: A business must compensate workers on regular established paydays at least once a month

• WA employee Rights: If a worker is not paid based on a schedule the individual may file a wage complaint. A worker may also file a complaint if the business denies other workplace rights that are governed by the Department of Labor & Industries, such as rest and meal breaks, family care, overtime etc.

• WA employee Rights: A business is not required to give raises, except if the worker is paid by minimum wage. According to Washington employee rights, the state’s minimum wage must be adjusted for inflation each New Year.

Washington Employee Rights: Filing Workplace Complaints

If an employee believes his/her Washington Employee Rights have been violated he/she should:

1. For overtime pay, wage, child labor or meal and break complains: please download and complete Worker Rights Complaint Form

2. If you need to file a complaint regarding leave from work: please download and complete the Protected leave Complaint Form

3. For complaints concerning prevailing wages: download and complete the Prevailing wage complaint forms

4. If you do not have access to the Internet or cannot download the complaint forms, call or visit your nearest Washington State Department of Labor & Industries. 

5. In the majority of cases, the Labor & Industries department will provide your employer with your name and a copy of your complaint when the L&I notifies the employer of your complaint 

What Happens after the Worker Rights Complaint Form is filed?

The workplace rights complaint—once filed—is reviewed by L&I staff for finality and to make that the appropriate department possesses jurisdiction. The employee may be asked to offer additional information and/or evidence for support of the complaint. Washington employee rights require—for wage complaints—that the L&I cannot guarantee collection. Specific to the complaint, the L&I will work with the worker and the business to resolve the wage complaint. If the complaint is unsuccessful, the L&I will ask the employer to pay the wages or fix the issue by issuing a formal citation. 

Washington Employee Rights: Termination

Washington employee rights state that a worker may not be fired for filing a:

• A worker may not be fired, according to WA employee rights, for filing a Safety Complaint

• A worker may not be fired, according to WA employee rights, for filing an Injured Worker Claim

• A worker may not be fired, according to WA employee rights, for filing a Workplace Rights Complaint

Washington employee rights do not require companies to provide a worker notice before terminating their job. Washington employee rights also do not state that an employee be provided notice before he/she is terminated. 

Washington is an “at will” state. This means that a business may fire an employee “at will”; Washington employee rights declare that an employer does not need a reason to fire an employee. If the worker believes that he/she was fired as a result of their race, religion, gender or for any other discriminatory measure, it is suggested that the individual seek the advice of an employment attorney. Fired workers may also contact the Human Rights Commission at 1-800-233-3247 if there is a concern about a discriminatory termination based on race, sex, age (40+), national origin, religion, marital status or physical, mental or sensory handicap. 

Human Rights Commission may be contacted at:

Western/Olympia Washington: 1-800-233-3247

Seattle/Western Washington: 1-800-605-7324

Yakima/Eastern Washington: 1-800-233-3247

You may also contact the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. To contact this office please call 1-800-669-4000