Proposed Changes to Washington's Overtime Rules

Washington's overtime employment rules are changing.

The Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) is changing the employment rules that determine which workers in Washington are required by law to be paid at least minimum wage, earn overtime pay, and receive paid sick leave. These changes will affect executive, administrative, and professional (EAP) workers as well as outside salespeople and computer professionals across all industries in Washington.

Changes to these rules will mean some employers will have to provide overtime, minimum wage, and paid sick leave to some employees who were previously considered exempt. In other cases, employers may need to increase salaries for exempt employees.

Who are these workers?
A combination of a minimum salary and specific job duties determines whether a worker meets the definition of an executive, administrative, or professional worker, outside salesperson or computer professional contained in state rules. These workers are typically "white collar" workers who often have more economic security and relative bargaining power than lower-wage workers.

In general, these workers must be salaried and paid a minimum specified salary level, and must primarily perform executive, administrative, professional, outside sales or computer professional duties as defined by federal regulations.

Proposed changes update minimum salary level and job duties
Under the proposed changes, the minimum pay a salaried worker must receive to be considered exempt would increase incrementally to 2.5 times minimum wage by 2026. Small employers (with 50 employees or less) would have a more gradual phase-in schedule to give them additional time to comply with the new rules. The proposed effective date for the first increase is July 1, 2020.

In addition to the change in the minimum salary level, the job duties tests in the proposed rules are being updated to more closely align with the federal job duties tests.

Public input during the rulemaking process
L&I updated the rules through a rulemaking process. The public could submit formal comments by email, fax, and mail during this process.

There were public hearings held in July and August in Tumwater, Seattle, Bellingham, Ellensburg, Kennewick, Spokane and Vancouver.

*All public hearings included a pre-hearing overview, which provided the public with an opportunity to learn about the new rule and ask Labor & Industries' staff questions.

In all, the department received 2,266 public comments, and heard testimony from 182 people at the public hearings.

L&I expects to announce a final decision in December.

Contact L&I's Employment Standards program at EAPrules@Lni.wa.gov or 1-866-219-7321.

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