Ringing in the new year means new requirements for Washington state employers. They must prepare for a trifecta of changes that require them to update two key labor law posters.
New Washington Minimum Wage
Starting January 1, 2022, Washington’s minimum wage will be $14.49 per hour. (Note that Seattle and SeaTac have their own minimum wages). The increase is based on the consumer price index from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
If you employ minor workers who are age 14 or 15, you may pay them 85% of the minimum wage, or $12.32 per hour. Certain other jobs are also exempt from the minimum wage, including certificated on-the-job learners (must be paid at least 85% of the minimum wage), certificated student workers and student learners (must be paid at least 75% of minimum wage), certificated workers with disabilities, and certain apprentices.
Washington has updated its “Your Rights as a Worker” poster reflecting this minimum wage update.
Other Updates to Washington’s Your Rights as a Worker Poster
Earlier this year, the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries made several formatting and textual changes to this labor law poster. The new poster removes the language “agricultural workers are generally exempt from overtime.” The poster also added website links to two sections relating to meal periods and paid leave under the Washington Family Care Act.
New Washington Paid Family and Medical Leave Rates
In December 2021, Washington updated its paid time off poster covering its paid family and medical leave benefit.
The amount of paid leave that employees are entitled to depends on their income. Eligible employees can receive up to 90% of their weekly pay, capped at a maximum of $1,327, for leaves that start on or after January 1, 2022. To be eligible, employees must have worked an average of 16 hours per week over the last year (820 hours). Employees can receive between 16 and 18 weeks of leave, depending on the reason for the leave.
Washington has also enacted its first rate increase for paid family and medical leave since it began payroll deductions for the benefit back in 2019. As of January 1, 2022, the premium rate will rise from 0.4% to 0.6% of each employee’s gross wages, up to the 2022 Social Security cap of $147,000.
Employees must cover 73.22% (0.439% of wages) of the premium, while employers with 50 or more employees in Washington will cover 26.78% of the premium (0.161% of wages). Employers with at least one employee but fewer than 50 employees in Washington must deduct 73.22% of the premium from payroll. They aren’t obligated to cover the remainder, though they may choose to. They also have the option of applying for small business assistance.
The premium rate is recalculated every year to reflect program usage levels in the prior year. This year’s increase resulted from more employees using the benefit in the prior year and a drop in last year’s payroll tax revenue.
In addition to collecting the required premium and paying quarterly premiums, employers must post or send an updated Washington paid time off notice to employees reflecting these changes.
Next Steps for Washington State Employers
The end of the year is the perfect time to schedule a review of the labor law posters you display in your workplace or post online. Poster Compliance Center makes it easy to ensure you have the most up-to-date versions of all required Washington labor law posters.
Check our website for Washington labor law updates. Then sign up for our 1-Year Compliance Plan, which ensures your labor law posters reflect all mandatory federal and state requirements and offers a $41,000 warranty against violations.