On June 3, 2014, Mayor Ed Murray signed a new minimum wage ordinance passed by the Seattle City Council. Beginning April 1, 2015, the ordinance will increase wages for employees within Seattle city limits to at least $11/hour.
The minimum wage will ultimately be raised to $15/hour in phases over several years. Large employers (businesses with more than 500 or more employees in the United States) will reach $15/hour minimum wage in 3 years. Large employers that pay toward health care benefits will reach $15/hour in 4 years.
Small employers (businesses with 500 or fewer employees in the United States) will reach $15/hour in 7 years. Also established is a minimum compensation responsibility for all small employers to reach $15/hour within the first 5 years, which can be achieved by combining employer-paid health care benefits, tips, and wages.
Also on April 1, the city will enact new employee protections on wage theft. Employers must play employees what they’re owed and provide written wage and tip information. The Office of Labor Standards, a new division within the Seattle Office for Civil Rights, will investigate possible violations.
As a matter of policy, the City of Seattle does not ask about the immigration status of anyone using City services. In addition, it is a violation of the ordinance for an employer to tell or suggest to a person filing a wage claim that the employer will report suspected citizenship or immigration status of an employee or a family member to a government agency.
The ordinance covers employees who perform work in Seattle and applies to all hours worked within city limits. The ordinance does not apply to hours worked outside of Seattle.
The ordinance does not cover independent contractors or employees performing services under a work study agreement.
Employers can pay a subminimum wage only to employees under age 16 years and to employees who qualify for a special certificate under Washington State’s minimum wage (i.e. learners, apprentices, messengers and workers with a disability). Employers must meet Washington State’s criteria for the special certificate.