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Blog banner of Washington Overtime Laws

Washington Overtime Laws: An Employer’s Guide

As of 2024, Washington remains one of the states in the U.S. with a dynamic workforce and continually evolving laws and regulations. The onus is on the employers to understand the Washington overtime law requirements and include them in their company policies for compliance.

The employment policies are determined by the laws and regulations regarding overtime eligibility, wages, exemptions, and requirements. Understanding these laws is beyond mere legal obligations; adherence to these regulations ensures employees receive appropriate compensation for their labor.

This article explores the Washington overtime law, including definitions and criteria, encompassing overview, compliance strategies, and legal implications.

Historically, these laws have been shaped by federal guidelines and state-specific mandates, aiming to balance the workforce’s needs with the operational realities of businesses.

The overtime laws were instituted as part of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) in 1938 in Washington. Today, it sets the standards for various aspects of labor law, including minimum wage, recordkeeping, and overtime pay. The overtime laws in Washington State have evolved significantly, reflecting a growing emphasis on worker rights and equitable pay practices.

Some of the most significant changes include:

  • Increased salary threshold to allow salaried employees to get overtime pay. As of 2024, according to federal guidelines, a salaried employee earning at least $684 a week is exempt from overtime pay. This limit is to increase by 2.5 times by 2028.
  • Job duty tests to determine if an employee is exempt are revised. The updated policies streamlined the process into a single test instead of two.
  • Special provisions for exempt categories are made: Executives, administrators, and professionals will be exempt if their duties involve high-level responsibilities.
  • Computer professionals must earn 2.5x the minimum state wage rate to be exempt by 2028 (incrementing yearly).
  • Outside salespeople are defined as individuals who primarily get contracts or sell or work away from the office.   

Criteria for Exemption

Under the Washington overtime law, deciding which salaried employee is entitled to overtime pay involves testing them at three levels.

Salary Basis Test: This criterion requires that an employee in Washington state be paid a predetermined and fixed salary that is not subject to reduction due to variations in the quality or quantity of work performed.

Salary Level Test: Washington has specific salary thresholds for exempting employees from overtime. Since January 1, 2020, the salary threshold has increased yearly and will continue till 2028. If a salaried employee receives less than the threshold in 2024, they are entitled to overtime pay.

Job Duties Test: It involves evaluating the primary duties to establish whether they are executive, administrative, professional, or outside sales-related. Each category has specific requirements; for example, executive employees must have management as their primary duty and regularly direct the work of at least two full-time employees.

Employers must be aware of the criteria requirements when classifying their employees. Misclassification can lead to legal issues and undermine the laws’ intent to protect worker rights and ensure fair compensation for overtime work.

Employer Compliance Strategies

As an employer, you must provide a positive work environment for your employees while ensuring compliance with various Washington overtime law requirements. If you need help to develop strategies and proactive measures for compliance, here are some recommendations.

Salary adjustments

As the salary threshold for exempt employees is increasing every year, employers may need to adjust the salaries of certain employees to meet the exemption thresholds. This will require an analysis of current salary structures and the necessary changes to align with the state’s salary level test for exempt employees.

Reclassifying employees

Some employees may need to be reclassified from exempt to non-exempt based on the updated criteria. Employers must inform them about the reclassification and explain the changes in their eligibility for overtime.

Managing work hours

Employers can implement effective work-hour management strategies if the overtime cost is too high. This includes scheduling adjustments, redistributing workloads, and ensuring non-exempt employees are not exploiting overtime work privileges.

Conducting job duties audits

As exemption requirements also include job descriptions and duties, employers must ensure that employees are classified correctly according to the job duties test. These audits help identify roles that may have evolved and need reclassification.

Implementing flexible staffing arrangements

Flexible staffing, such as using part-time or temporary workers during peak periods, can help manage workloads and reduce overtime.

Training managers 

Managers and supervisors should know the importance of accurate timekeeping and the legal implications of improperly authorizing overtime.

Legal Implications of Non-Compliance

Non-compliance with Washington State overtime law can be costly for employers, sometimes leading to penalties and legal action. Employers should be aware of these potential consequences to maintain legal compliance and ensure ethical business practices.

Financial penalties

Employers failing to comply with state and federal overtime laws are subject to financial penalties. Violators can face substantial penalties, including back pay for unpaid overtime, fines, and additional damages. For ongoing or widespread non-compliance, the cost can be too high.

Legal actions and lawsuits

Employees can take legal routes for non-compliance and violation of their overtime rights at the state and federal levels. Lawsuits can be costly court battles, settlements, and judgments against the employer.

Audits and investigations

The Washington State Department of Labor & Industries or federal authorities may conduct audits or investigations in response to complaints or as part of routine checks. These can result in further penalties and enforcement actions.

Impact on employee relations

Non-compliance affects the company’s reputation and leads to distrust among employees. It can also result in high turnover rates.

Employee Rights and Protections

Washington overtime law provides several rights to employees and protections to ensure they are fairly compensated for their work hours. Here are the critical aspects of these rights and the importance of upholding them.

Right to overtime pay

All non-exempt employees in Washington State are legally entitled to overtime pay for hours worked over 40 in a workweek. The overtime pay must be at least 1.5 times the employee’s regular hourly rate.

Accurate classification

Accurate classification of an employee is not only a federal mandate but also a right of the employee. They should be correctly classified as exempt or non-exempt based on the established criteria. Whether intentional or accidental, misclassification can violate an employee’s right to overtime pay.

Transparent information

Employees have the right to complete and accurate information about the job responsibilities, salary structure, and their classification and entitlements. This transparency is vital for ensuring that employees are aware of their rights and can take action if they believe those rights are being infringed.

Protection from retaliation

No employer can retaliate against employees for asserting their rights under the Washington overtime laws. This includes protection from being unfairly disciplined, demoted, or terminated for filing a complaint or inquiring about their overtime pay.

Employees in the state have the right to pursue legal action if they believe their overtime rights have been violated. This can include filing complaints with the Department of Labor & Industries or seeking legal redress through the courts.

How can Truein help with overtime pay management?

Truein is a cloud-based, hardware-less time and attendance management software designed to aid businesses in effectively managing a workforce. By extending the platform’s features, we also offer robust overtime pay management features.

To help employers automate overtime tracking, Truein simplifies the process of tracking overtime by face-recognition-based employee clock-ins and clock-outs aligned with the company’s specific overtime policies. It features over 70 customizable policy templates that can be configured to adhere to the unique overtime policies of each business, ensuring that calculations are consistent with internal guidelines and legal requirements.

It also plays a crucial role in accurate recordkeeping. It maintains precise and detailed records of employees’ work hours in a decentralized database, vital for compliance with overtime laws and internal auditing purposes. Speaking of data, Truein has enhanced reporting capabilities. It provides comprehensive reporting and valuable insights into overtime trends, which aids in informed decision-making and effective workforce management. Whether you are a small business owner at a single location or maintain several job sites, with Truein’s real-time monitoring, you can monitor employee work hours in real-time.

Employers can streamline overtime management processes by incorporating Truein into their human resources toolkit. It will help them to comply with relevant laws and manage their workforce more effectively.


Washington overtime law has evolved with the changing economy and liberal rights of the workforce. These changes have been for the better, and employers and employees must understand what these laws entitle them to.

For employers, it is essential to have a clear understanding of these laws, defined criteria for exemptions, and strategies for compliance. They should also understand the legal implications of non-compliance and ensure employee rights and protections have been emphasized in their company policies.

As managing overtime records and compliance can be complex, tools like Truein offer efficient solutions, helping businesses maintain compliance and streamline their operations.

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