News & Articles

Employment Law Alert: Washington State and Seattle Minimum Wage Increases Effective January 1, 2017

Published on January 3, 2017

By Shannon Lawless

Employers should act now to ensure their first payroll for 2017 complies with Washington State and the City of Seattle minimum wage increases.

Statewide Minimum Wage Increases to $11/hour

Initiative 1433, approved by Washington voters last November, increased the minimum wage in Washington State to $11.00/hour effective January 1, 2017. The initiative will raise the minimum wage again each year by fixed amounts until 2021, when increases will be indexed to inflation, as follows:

Effective Date Minimum Wage
January 1, 2017 $11.00
January 1, 2018 $11.50
January 1, 2019 $12.00
January 1, 2020 $13.50
January 1, 2021 $13.50 + inflation adjustment

Tips and gratuities do not count toward the statewide minimum wage. Stricter requirements by individual cities remain in place.

Seattle Minimum Wage Increases to $15/hour for Some Employers

Two years ago, Seattle enacted an ordinance raising the minimum wage to $15/hour over several years. The amount of the increase each year depends on the employer’s size and employee benefits. This year, the first group of employees reaches the full $15/hour requirement.

As of January 1, 2017, the minimum wage requirements for Seattle employers are:

  • $15.00/hour: For large employers (over 500 employees nationally) who do not pay toward medical benefits
  • $13.50/hour: For large employers (over 500 employees nationally) who pay toward medical benefits
  • $13.00/hour: For small employers (500 or fewer employees nationally) where tips and employer-paid medical benefits total less than $2.00/hour
  • $11.00/hour: For small employers (500 or fewer employees nationally) where the employee receives at least $2.00/hour in tips or employer-paid medical benefits

For more information on the new minimum wage requirements, please contact a member of the Employment Rights, Benefits & Labor Group at Ryan Swanson.


Shannon Lawless is an attorney in Ryan, Swanson & Cleveland, PLLC’s Employment Rights, Benefits and Labor Group and can be reached at 206.654.2211 or [email protected]

This message has been created by the Employment Rights, Benefits & Labor Group at Ryan, Swanson & Cleveland, PLLC to advise of recent developments in the law. Because each situation is different, this information is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended to provide legal advice on any specific facts and circumstances. Ryan, Swanson & Cleveland, PLLC is a full-service law firm located in Seattle, Washington.

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