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Washington State News

Several Wage-Related Changes Pending for Washington in 2024

Randy Bracht | The Center Square

(The Center Square) – Washington’s much-publicized increase to the nation’s highest minimum wage is not the only wage-related change that will take effect Jan. 1 in the Evergreen State.

In 2024, there will also be revised standards pertaining to overtime pay for agricultural workers, overtime-exempt employees, and minimum pay for rideshare drivers, says the Washington Department of Labor & Industries.

Here’s a summary:

OVERTIME FOR AG WORKERS: Beginning in January, farm and agriculture employees – including piece-rate workers – will be eligible for overtime after working 40 hours a week. It’s the last step in a three-year adjustment period that began after the 2021 Legislature passed Engrossed Substitute Senate Bill 5172.

In 2022, the overtime eligibility threshold was 55 work hours in a week and that dropped to 48 hours this year. Previously, agriculture workers had been historically exempt from receiving overtime pay. Agricultural employees must earn at least the state’s applicable minimum wage, and overtime pay must be at least 1.5 times an employee’s regular hourly rate, according to the state Department of Labor & Industries.

MINIMUM PAY FOR RIDESHARE DRIVERS: Drivers for rideshare companies such as Lyft and Uber will qualify for minimum pay beginning in 2024. The rates will differ for trips inside and outside the city of Seattle.

Inside the city, drivers will earn at least 66 cents per passenger platform minute and $1.55 per passenger platform mile, or $5.81, whichever is greater.

Outside Seattle, the pay rate goes down. Drivers will earn 38 cents per passenger platform minute and $1.31 per passenger platform mile, or $3.37, whichever is greater.

Rideshare drivers are also entitled to paid sick time, workers’ compensation, and protection from companies retaliating against drivers who seek those benefits.

Food and goods delivery drivers are not covered by the state’s new rideshare law, says L&I.

OVERTIME EXEMPT EMPLOYEES: In 2024, the salary threshold over which certain workers are exempt from overtime pay requirements will increase to $1,302 a week or $67,725 a year. The threshold rate – set at twice the state’s minimum wage over a 40-hour workweek – applies to executive, administrative, and professional workers plus outside salespeople.

Another standard applies to computer professionals who receive a higher minimum wage “multiplier” – the hourly wage for overtime exemption will be $56.98, or 3.5 times the state’s minimum wage.

Beginning in 2025, the state will apply separate “exemption” multiplier rates for employers with 50 or less workers and employers with more than 50. By 2028, the rate will again be the same at 2.5 times the minimum wage regardless of employee numbers, according to the L&I schedule. Computer professionals paid by the hour will continue to have a higher minimum wage multiplier.

MINIMUM WAGE: Washington’s minimum wage will increase from $15.74 to $16.28 per hour next year and apply to workers ages 16 and older. Employers may pay 85% of that wage, or $13.84 per hour, to workers ages 14-15 and to certain student, apprentice, and on-the-job workers.

The minimum wage rate will be even higher in the cities of Seattle ($18.69) and SeaTac ($19.06).

NON-COMPETE PACTS: The state says agreements which bar workers from directly competing against a prior employer can only apply to those earning more than $120,560 a year, or $301,400 per year for independent contractors.