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State minimum wage goes to $13.69 per hour starting Jan. 1

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There’s a question about the minimum wage that the state Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) receives a lot, especially at the start of a new year. Here’s the answer:

“If you receive the minimum wage, and worked during December but are paid in January for that time, then you’ll receive the 2020 minimum wage,” said Joshua Grice, Employment Standards Program manager at L&I, in a Dec. 30 news release. “This is something we remind businesses and employees about frequently.”

The state’s minimum wage will increase to $13.69 per hour starting Jan. 1. It’s based on a 1.39% increase over the last 12 months in the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers.

The state minimum wage applies to workers age 16 and older. Under state law, employers can pay 85% of the minimum wage to workers ages 14-15. For 2021, the wage for that younger age group will be $11.64 per hour.

New salary thresholds for exempt employees

Salaried executive, administrative and professional workers, and computer professionals must perform certain specified duties, and earn a salary above a minimum specified amount to remain overtime exempt. For 2021, it means:

• For small businesses with 50 or fewer employees, an exempt employee must earn a salary of at least 1.5 times the minimum wage, or $821.40 a week ($42,712.80/year).

• For large businesses with 51 or more employees, an exempt employee must earn a salary of at least 1.75 times the minimum wage, or $958.30 a week ($49,831.60/year).

There also are threshold changes for exempt computer professionals paid by the hour.

The new thresholds are a part of changes to the overtime rules that took effect July 1.

Complete information about the minimum wage is available on L&I’s website, as well as details about overtime, rest breaks, and meal periods. Also, there is a new, free, “Your Rights as a Worker” poster that businesses in Washington are required to display in their workplace.

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