Washington Wants Broader Overtime Pay

State looking to join New York, California and Pennsylvania in changing trigger levels for overtime pay.

June 10, 2019

SEATTLE – Washington wants to join other states that are working to increase the number of salaried restaurant managers and other workers who qualify for overtime pay, according to Restaurant Business.

The Washington State Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) proposed on June 5 that any salaried worker earning less than $49,000 annually at a company with at least 51 employees would be entitled to overtime for hours exceeding 40 per week. Under a plan tied to the state minimum wage, the threshold would rise to $80,000 in annual salary by 2026.

The new Washington state rules would take effect July 1, 2020 and would affect about 77,000 employees currently exempt from overtime payment requirements. About 77,000 employees who would qualify for time-and-a-half pay—a number that would rise to 250,000 by 2026, L&I said.

Businesses with less than 50 people on their payroll would be subject to a trigger level of $35,100 in annual salary, which is more in tune with the government’s proposed threshold of $35,308. But the qualifying line is also expected to rise over a six-year stretch.

Currently, Washington overtime laws kick in for salaried workers earning less than $13,000 annually—although federal requirements preempt the rule at $23,660.

“The current system is out of date. It’s at risk of failing tens of thousands of workers by broadly defining what a white-collar worker is, which allows businesses to pay salaries that may be even less than minimum wage,” L&I Director Joel Sacks said in a statement. “That’s especially true for employees who are expected to work well over 40 hours a week, but don't get paid overtime.”

Many other states are raising the trigger level for overtime. Massachusetts intends to hold hearings in two weeks on a plan to focus on managers with a salary under $65,000 a year. California is in the process of raising its bar to $62,400, and New York is working toward a level of $58,500. Pennsylvania announced that it will adopt a threshold of $47,000.