What 2018’s new minimum wage and sick pay rules mean for you

Sick days. (Getty Images)

SEATTLE, Wash. — Washington workers will have a higher minimum wage and guaranteed paid sick leave coming on Jan. 1, 2018.

The increase comes after voters approved Initiative 1433 in 2016, largely billed as the minimum wage increase law.

The law is welcome news for Washington workers who aren’t used to taking time off when they’re sick. Still, the changes have many asking, “what does the new law mean for me?”

Below is a breakdown the new wage and sick leave law and how you will be affected:

Sick Leave 

  • Mandatory paid sick leave takes effect on Jan. 1, 2018.
  • Under the new law, employees earn at least one hour of paid sick leave for every 40 hours worked. For people who work full time, this means about 1 hour of paid sick time for every week worked. It works out to about 6.5 days a year for full-time workers.
  • The law requires employers to carry over up to 40 hours of an employee’s unused sick leave from one year to the next.
  • The time can be used when a worker OR a family member is sick. It also applies when an office or school has been closed for health-related reason.
  • Paid sick leave must be paid to employees at their normal hourly compensation.
  • Sick time is given 90 days after employment starts.

Minimum Wage Increase 

  • Washington’s minimum wage will increase from $11 an hour to $11.50 an hour on Jan. 1, 2018.
  • In 2019, minimum wage will go up to $12 an hour. It 2020, the wage will go up to $13.50 an hour.
  • For employers in cities that already have higher minimum wages, including Seattle, the local minimum wage rate will apply as long as it is higher than the state minimum.
  • Workers between 14 and 15 may be paid 85 percent of the adult minimum wage, or $9.78 an hour.

For more on the changes, head to the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries website.