Compliance Watch:
What are my overtime rights in Washington?

May 18th 2024

In Washington, employees have specific rights regarding overtime pay, designed to ensure fair compensation for hours worked beyond the standard workweek. Employees’ overtime rights in Washington are established under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and state law. Understanding your overtime rights ensures you are fairly compensated for your work.

This article outlines key provisions regarding overtime pay in Washington, from determining overtime eligibility pay to understanding how overtime rates are calculated and the steps to take if employee rights have been violated.

This Article Covers

Understanding Overtime in Washington
Common Questions About Overtime in Washington
Legal Working Hours in Washington
Overtime Eligibility in Washington
    Overtime Payment Calculations in Washington
      Receiving Overtime Payment in Washington
      Violations of Overtime Law in Washington

      Understanding Overtime in Washington

      Is overtime pay mandatory in Washington?

      Yes, overtime pay is mandatory in Washington. Under both federal and state law, non-exempt employees must be compensated for overtime work. Employees classified as exempt may not be entitled to overtime pay as they meet specific criteria related to their job duties and salary.

      When do I qualify for overtime pay in Washington?

      In Washington, overtime pay is calculated on a weekly basis. Employees working more than 40 hours in a single workweek are entitled to overtime pay for those additional hours. Since Washington does not mandate daily overtime pay, employees who worked long hours on particular days within that week would not qualify for overtime.

      How much is overtime pay in Washington?

      Overtime pay for non-exempt employees in Washington is calculated at a rate of one and a half (1.5) times the employee’s regular pay for any hours worked beyond 40 in a workweek. This means that for every hour of overtime worked, eligible employees are entitled to receive their overtime compensation at 1.5 times.

      For example, if a minimum wage earner in Washington is paid $16.28 per hour, the employee’s overtime rate would be $24.42 for every additional hour.

      Which laws govern overtime in Washington?

      Under federal and state laws, Washington employees are entitled to receive payment for working overtime unless they are classified as salaried exempt employees. The following laws work in conjunction to establish overtime pay standards in Washington:

      • Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA): The FLSA is a federal law that establishes minimum wage, overtime pay, recordkeeping, and child labor standards for employees. It sets the basic overtime standard for non-exempt employees, requiring overtime pay at one and a half times the regular rate for hours worked over 40 in a workweek.
      • Washington Minimum Wage Act (MWA): The MWA is a state-specific law that sets the minimum wage rate including provisions regarding overtime pay. Its overtime requirements are consistent with the FLSA which is to pay employees at least 1.5 times their regular rate for all hours worked over 40 in a workweek.
      • Washington Administrative Code (WAC): The WAC outlines specific requirements and procedures related to overtime pay, recordkeeping, exemptions, and other aspects of wage and hour laws in the state. Employers and employees can refer to WAC for guidance on overtime rights in Washington.

      Common Questions About Overtime in Washington

      Do employers have to pay overtime in Washington?

      Yes, employers in Washington are legally obligated to pay overtime to non-exempt employees for hours worked over 40 in a workweek at a rate of one and a half times the regular rate of pay. This requirement is enforced by both federal and state laws, ensuring that employees receive fair compensation for their work.

      Can an employee refuse to work overtime in Washington?

      Washington employees have the right to refuse to work overtime unless the employment contract or collective bargaining agreements state otherwise. These agreements may include provisions about mandatory overtime, voluntary overtime, and limits on the amount of overtime work.

      Hence, employees can be required to work overtime if it is a condition of their employment, and refusal to do so could result in disciplinary action, including termination.

      Can I take comp time instead of overtime pay in Washington?

      Comp time, also known as compensatory time off, refers to granting employees time off from work instead of paying them overtime wages for hours worked beyond 40 in a workweek. In Washington, this alternative to overtime is only eligible for public employees. This agreement must be voluntary, and the employee must receive comp time at a rate of at least 1.5 hours of compensatory time for each hour of overtime worked; the comp time rate must be consistent with the overtime pay rate.

      Can I get overtime pay in Washington without employer approval?

      According to Washington State Labor & Industries (L&I), employees who work “unauthorized” hours or overtime without the employer’s approval must be paid for their hours worked. However, the employer may also take disciplinary action against the employee for working unauthorized overtime.

      Employers may establish policies and procedures for requesting and approving overtime work to manage workload, staffing, and costs effectively.

      Does Washington have double-time pay?

      Washington does not require employers to provide double-time pay for overtime hours worked. Employers in Washington are only required to pay one and a half times an employee’s regular rate for hours worked beyond 40 in a workweek.

      While double-time pay is not mandated by Washington employment laws, some employers may offer such compensation through company policies and employee benefits. Hence, employees need to review their employment contracts and company policies to ensure they fully know their rights and obligations.

      What is working ‘off-the-clock’ in Washington?

      Working “off-the-clock” in Washington refers to performing job-related duties outside of the officially recorded and compensated work hours. This can include tasks or responsibilities that an employee undertakes without logging the time or receiving pay. Examples include:

      • Answering work emails or calls outside of scheduled work hours.
      • Finishing reports, filling out forms, or doing other administrative tasks without clocking in.
      • Setting up workstations, getting equipment ready, or performing other preparatory activities before officially starting a shift.
      • Tidying up workspace after clocking out.

      What are common ways employers avoid paying overtime in Washington?

      Employers in Washington might attempt to avoid paying overtime unintentionally or intentionally. Some common ways employers might try to avoid paying overtime include:

      • Misclassifying Employees: Employers may classify employees as exempt from overtime by giving them titles like manager or supervisor without actually providing the corresponding job duties or salary level that would legally exempt them from overtime pay.
      • Off-the-Clock Work: Encouraging or requiring employees to work off-the-clock, such as answering emails, taking phone calls, or completing tasks before clocking in and after clocking out.
      • Improper Time Rounding: Rounding employee work time down to the nearest quarter hour in a way that systematically undercounts hours worked.
      • Failing to Record Hours Worked: Not keeping accurate records of all hours worked, including not accounting for work done during lunch breaks or outside normal working hours.
      • Comp Time Instead of Overtime: Offering compensatory time off instead of paying overtime wages is not allowed in the private sector under federal and Washington state law for non-exempt employees.
      • Salary Misclassification: Paying a fixed salary claiming that it covers all hours worked, regardless of the number of hours actually worked, for employees who are non-exempt and should be receiving overtime pay.
      • Unpaid Breaks: Deducting time for meal breaks that the employee did not take or that were interrupted by work duties.
      • Job Reclassification: Changing job titles or reclassifying positions to avoid paying overtime while keeping the job duties essentially the same.

      Can you work seven days in a row in Washington?

      Yes, employees can work seven days in a row in Washington. There is no state law prohibiting consecutive workdays. However, employers must adhere to overtime laws and pay employees 1.5 times their regular rate for hours worked over 40 in a workweek.

      How many ten-hour days can you work in a row in Washington?

      In Washington, employees can work ten-hour days consecutively as there is no specific state law that limits the number of consecutive workdays. However, any hours worked over 40 in a workweek must be paid at the overtime rate of 1.5 times their regular pay.

      What are full-time hours in Washington?

      Full-time employment in Washington is defined as working a maximum of 8 hours per workday and 40 hours per workweek. However, this may vary depending on industry practices, employer practices, or collective bargaining agreements.

      How many hours straight can you legally work in Washington?

      No specific state law limits the number of hours an employee can work in a single day. However, the FLSA requires employers to pay employees overtime for any hours worked over 40 in a workweek.

      Is overtime after eight hours or 40 hours in Washington?

      Overtime in Washington is calculated based on hours worked over 40 in a workweek, not based on hours worked over eight in a day. Employees are entitled to overtime pay at a rate of 1.5 times their regular rate for any hours worked over 40 in a workweek.

      Does working on the weekend qualify for overtime pay in Washington?

      Working on the weekend does not qualify for overtime pay in Washington. However, if you work on the weekend and the total hours worked in a workweek exceed 40, this qualifies for overtime pay. Further, overtime rights in Washington do not include double-time pay for weekend work. Instead, it follows the standard overtime rules, which are at a rate of 1.5.

      How many hours-off between shifts is required in Washington?

      No specific law in Washington mandates minimum hours off between shifts for adult employees. However, certain industries or occupations, such as healthcare, may have regulations or collective bargaining agreements that establish minimum rest periods between shifts to ensure employee safety and well-being. In addition, employers must comply with federal and state laws regarding rest periods, especially for minor employees.

      What does ‘hours-worked’ include in Washington?

      In Washington, “hours worked” include all the time an employee is required or permitted to be on duty, whether performing job duties or waiting for assignments. This encompasses not only active work but also time spent on call, attending meetings or training sessions, and any other activities that are under the employer’s control.

      What are the most hours a salaried employee can work in Washington? 

      There is no specific limit on the number of hours a salaried employee can work per week. Salaried employees are exempt from overtime pay under certain conditions, such as meeting specific job duties and earning above a certain salary threshold. Conversely, non-exempt employees are entitled to overtime pay for hours worked beyond 40 in a workweek.

      Learn more about Your Rights as a Salaried Employee in Washington.

      What is the maximum number of hours an hourly employee can work in Washington?

      Washington has no specific limit on the maximum number of hours an hourly employee can work per week. However, non-exempt employees are eligible for overtime pay and must be paid 1.5 times their regular hourly rate for any hours worked beyond 40 in a workweek.

      Learn more about Your Rights as an Hourly Employee in Washington.

      Overtime Eligibility in Washington

      Who is eligible for overtime pay in Washington?

      In Washington, most employees are eligible for overtime pay unless they are exempt under state or federal law. Non-exempt employees do not meet specific exemption criteria related to job duties and salary. Overtime pay in Washington is 1.5 times the employee’s regular rate for hours worked over 40 in a work week. However, certain exemptions may apply based on industry, job classification, or salary level.

      Who is exempt from overtime pay in Washington?

      Certain employees are exempt from overtime pay requirements in Washington. Under the FLSA, exemptions apply to executive, administrative, professional, outside sales employees, computer professionals, and highly compensated employees. To qualify for an exemption, employees must primarily perform exempt duties and meet the minimum salary requirements of $1,302.40 per week (or $67,724.90 annually).

      Can salaried employees get overtime pay in Washington?

      Yes, Salaried employees in Washington can receive overtime pay if they do not meet the criteria for exemption under state or federal law. Non-exempt salaried employees are entitled to overtime pay at 1.5 times their regular rate for hours worked over 40 in a workweek.

      Exemption criteria for salaried employees involve specific job duties and a minimum salary threshold. If salaried employees do not meet these exemption standards, they must be compensated for overtime work.

      Learn more in detail about Washington Salaried Employees Laws and Washington Overtime Laws.

      Overtime Payment Calculations in Washington

      What is my regular rate of pay in Washington?

      In Washington, your regular pay rate is the basis for calculating overtime. It is generally the total earnings for the workweek divided by the total number of hours worked in that workweek. A minimum wage earner in Washington is $16.28 per hour, and any overtime hours are compensated at $24.42 per hour.

      How do you calculate overtime in Washington?

      Calculating overtime in Washington involves a few key steps to ensure that non-exempt employees receive correct pay for hours worked beyond the 40-hour workweek.

      To calculate overtime in Washington:

      • Determine the regular rate of pay: The regular rate is the hourly wage. For salaried employees, divide the weekly salary by the number of hours the salary covers. For example, if the weekly salary is $655, the regular hourly rate is $16.38 ($655 / 40 hours).
      • Calculate overtime rate: After identifying the regular pay rate, multiply the regular pay rate by the overtime rate (1.5 times). If the regular hourly rate of the employee is $16.38, the overtime pay for every hour worked would be $24.57
      • Identify the overtime hours: Overtime is calculated for hours worked over 40 in a workweek.
      • Calculate overtime pay: Multiply the overtime rate by the number of overtime hours. If the employee worked eight overtime hours at an overtime rate of $24.57 then the overtime pay is $196.56.

      How is overtime taxed in Washington?

      Overtime pay in Washington is subject to federal income tax and Social Security and Medicare taxes (FICA).

      • Income Tax: Overtime pay is considered regular income and is taxed at the same rate as regular wages. The amount withheld from an employee’s paycheck for federal income tax depends on your total income and the information provided on your W-4 form. The additional overtime can push an employee’s earnings into a higher tax bracket.
      • FICA Tax: Overtime pay is subject to Social Security and Medicare taxes. Social security tax is 6.2% of your earnings up to the annual limit. Further, Medicare tax is 1.45% of all your earnings, with no income limit.

      Washington does not have a state income tax, so an employee’s overtime pay is not subject to any.

      Receiving Overtime Payment in Washington

      How is overtime paid in Washington?

      Overtime pay in Washington is disbursed in the same manner as regular wages, which is usually through direct deposit to an employee’s bank account or by issuing a physical paycheck. Regardless of the payment method, employers are required to clearly indicate on the pay stub to allow employees to review their pay statements regularly and ensure they are paid accurately.

      When do I receive my overtime paycheck in Washington?

      Washington requires that employees must be paid at least once a month on a regular payday scheduled by the employer. However, most employers in Washington pay their employees more frequently, such as biweekly or twice monthly. Hence, the time when you receive your overtime paycheck depends on your employer’s payroll schedule and policies.

      Violations of Overtime Law in Washington

      What if my employer refuses to pay me overtime in Washington?

      If employers refuse to pay overtime in Washington despite the employee’s eligibility, the affected employee must take action promptly. Employees must have a record of the following to support their claim:

      • Written communication with the employer that shows their refusal to pay.
      • Pay stubs.
      • Copy of the employment contract that discloses the salary or hourly wage details.
      • Records of work hours (timesheets, clock-in/out records, emails).

      Employees must file a complaint if the employer continues to refuse to pay the overtime compensation despite the employee’s eligibility.

      What is the penalty for failing to pay overtime in Washington?

      In Washington, failing to pay overtime wages as required by law can result in penalties for employers. These penalties are intended to hold employers accountable and to ensure employees receive the compensation they are entitled to for their work. Here are some potential penalties for failing to pay overtime:

      • Back pay: This includes the difference between what the employee was paid and what they should have been paid at the appropriate overtime rate for the hours worked over 40 in a workweek.
      • Liquidated damages: This is in addition to back pay and intended to compensate employees for any additional losses or expenses incurred as a result of the employer’s failure to pay overtime. Liquidated damages are equal to the amount of back pay owed.
      • Interest: Employers may be required to pay interest on the unpaid overtime wages owed to employees. The interest rate is determined by state law and accrues from the date the overtime wages should have been paid.
      • Attorney’s Fees and Legal Costs: If an employee successfully sues their employer for unpaid overtime wages, the employer may be required to pay the employee’s attorney’s fee and legal costs on top of the unpaid overtime wages.

      How can I file a wage claim for overtime in Washington?

      To file a wage claim for unpaid overtime in Washington, employees must submit a complaint with the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries (L&I).

      Employees must provide any documentation related to their employment and the hours they have worked, including timesheets, pay stubs, clock-in/out records, emails, or any other evidence that supports their claim for unpaid overtime.

      Further, employees who encounter difficulties with the wage claim process or those who believe their rights have been violated can consider legal assistance.

      Can employers retaliate against employees for making a wage claim in Washington?

      No, employers in Washington are prohibited from retaliating against employees who make a wage claim or exercise their rights under state wage and hour laws. Retaliation against employees who engage in protected activities, such as filing a wage claim, is illegal and can result in further legal consequences for the employer.

      Learn more about Washington Labor Laws through our detailed guide.

      Important Cautionary Note

      This content is provided for informational purposes only. While we make every effort to ensure the accuracy of the information presented, we cannot guarantee that it is free of errors or omissions. Users are advised to independently verify any critical information and should not solely rely on the content provided.