Law opens overtime pay rules

Businesses must pay more depending on number of workers, minimum wage

ANDREA GONZALEZ, Evergreen reporter

Workers will receive fair pay for overtime hours after the federal overtime rule took effect on Jan. 1. The state overtime rule takes effect on July 1.

Tim Church, Washington State Department of Labor and Industries public affairs manager, said the changes to the overtime rules restores protections for thousands of Washington workers.

Melissa DiNoto, WSU compensation manager, said an employee must be paid a certain amount per year to be exempt for overtime pay depending on the size of the business.

On Jan. 1, 2021, Washington’s threshold will exceed the federal threshold, Church said. This means businesses with 1-50 employees will have to pay at least 1.5 times the minimum wage, which is about $43,000 per year, to people who do not qualify for overtime pay.

A business with 51 or more employees will have to pay 1.75 times the minimum wage, or about $50,000 a year, to those who do not qualify for overtime pay, he said.

To be considered exempt from overtime people must pass a job duties test where the employer confirms if their job duties can be considered overtime exempt, Church said.

Positions must be reviewed on a case-by-case basis because each position has different responsibilities and each employee has different salaries, DiNoto said.

Students are limited in the number of hours they can work, which means non-student WSU employees will be affected more, DiNoto said.

Employees who do not meet the minimum salary or do not meet the salary duties test become eligible for overtime pay, she said.

The numbers given for Jan. 1, 2021 will increase as the minimum wage increases and a formula will be used to determine those numbers, Church said.

The minimum wage has been increasing because of an initiative that passed several years ago that set an exact amount for the minimum wage, he said.

“The threshold for overtime exempt workers has been woefully low,” he said. “It had not been updated since the 1970s so it was clearly time to do that.”

DiNoto said employment laws are always designed to be more favorable to the employees. The changes to federal overtime standards means a larger number of employees can be paid overtime.