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Proposed state law would expand overtime pay to 250,000+ workers

(File, Associated Press)

Washington state’s Department of Labor and Industries is proposing a new rule that would make hundreds of thousands of workers eligible for overtime pay by 2026. The plan is to gradually raise the overtime threshold below which employees must be paid overtime, which will depend on the company’s size, until 2026 when the same threshold will apply to all companies.

Beginning July 1, 2020, companies with 50 or fewer employees would be required to pay overtime to employees making less than $35,000 a year, and for larger employers, this would apply to workers making $49,000 a year. By 2026, this would increase to nearly $80,000 a year.

Director of the Washington State Labor and Industries Joel Sacks joined the Candy, Mike and Todd Show on KIRO Radio to discuss the ramifications for employers and what to expect with the proposal.

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“Businesses are going to have a lot of options because the idea here is we’re looking at identifying a salary level under which if you will work more than 40 hours you should be entitled to overtime,” he said. “The choices for businesses will be if to pay their workers at that level, or to pay overtime, or to just ensure that their workers are working 40 hours or less.”

The Department of Labor and Industries will hold a series of public hearings on the issues and will publish a final rule in December, reports The Olympian. The threshold in Washington hasn’t been changed since 1976, and sits at $23,600 a year. This change could potentially impact approximately 77,000 initially and about 250,000 by 2026.

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“What we’re trying to do with this rule is to say most hardworking people — when you’re working 40 hours or more — you should be entitled to some basic labor protections, like minimum wage, like overtime, like paid sick leave. What we’re trying to do is update the rules to sort of reflect the real reality of our times,” he said.

“The business that is going to to be most impacted by this rule are those businesses that have the most what we call white collar workers, so if you take a fast food restaurant, most of the people working there are already eligible for overtime,” he said. “So this rule would affect maybe your shift supervisor or your store manager. When we look at a technology firm and this could affect many more of their workers.”

Listen to The Candy, Mike, and Todd Show weekdays from 3-7 p.m. on KIRO Radio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

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