Minimum Wage, OT And Workers’ Comp Premium Changes in Washington Starting in 2022

December 28, 2021

Changes in Washington’s minimum wage, overtime for white-collar professionals, overtime for agricultural workers, and workers’ compensation premiums are set to take effect Jan. 1, 2022.

The Washington State Department of Labor & Industries on Tuesday issued reminders to businesses and employees about the changes.

The L&I’s list of work-related changes include:

The Minimum Wage

The state’s minimum wage is set to increase to $14.49 per hour. It’s based on a 5.83% increase in the Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics attributed the increase to more expensive gas, housing, household furnishings and food.

The state minimum wage applies to workers age 16 and older. Under state law, employers may pay 85% of the minimum wage to workers ages 14 to 15. For 2022, the wage for that younger age group will be $12.32 per hour.

Cities are able to set minimum wages higher than the state’s minimum.

Overtime-Exempt Employees

The minimum salary an employee must earn to be considered overtime-exempt is set to rise. This covers “white collar” positions held by executive, administrative and professional workers. It also includes computer professionals and outside salespeople.

Among the requirements to be exempt from the state Minimum Wage Act, salaried employees must meet the job duties test and earn at least a minimum salary of $1,014.30 per week ($52,743.60 a year). That rate is 1.75 times the minimum wage.

Agricultural Overtime

Washington’s farmworkers will be eligible to earn overtime for the first time starting in 2022.

The law includes a three-year phase-in. It incrementally reduces the number of hours worked by farmworkers before they are entitled to overtime pay:

  • As of Jan. 1, 2022: 55 hours in a workweek;
  • As of Jan. 1, 2023: 48 hours in a workweek;
  • As of Jan. 1, 2024: 40 hours in a workweek.

Dairy workers are already eligible to earn overtime after working 40 hours in a workweek.

Workers’ Comp Premiums

The average workers’ comp premium rate for hours worked in 2022 will go up 3.1%.

The rate increase addresses the rising costs due to cost-of-living adjustments for long-term cases, triggered by a rise in the state’s average wage, according to L&I.

With the rate increase, the average rate per $100 of payroll in 2022 will be $1.53, a 1.4% increase over 2021. Individual employers may see their rates go up or down, depending on recent claim history and changes in the frequency and cost of claims in industry risk classes. Workers will continue to pay on average about a quarter of the premium, a similar percentage to that paid in 2021.

Topics Workers' Compensation Washington

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