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Washington state nears vote to widen eligibility for overtime pay

Washington state nears vote to widen eligibility for overtime pay

Washington state votes on overtime pay law

A long delayed update to America’s overtime pay system has finally passed in Washington D.C., and the changes could usher in far more generous overtime benefits to Washington state workers starting next year.

The U.S. Labor Department finalized a new rule last week to expand overtime pay to 1.3 million salaried workers who earn less than about $35,500 per year. It’s a big jump from the $23,700 threshold in place since 2004, but a far cry from the $47,500 the Obama Administration sought to enforce starting in 2006.

However, if the Washington Department of Labor and Industries passes a new rule (in its current form) in December, Washington state workers making up to about $50,000 would be eligible for overtime benefits.

Starting July 1, 2020, companies with more than 50 employees would be required to pay time-and-a-half to salaried workers who make up to $49,140. Companies with 50 or fewer workers would have to wait an extra six months to see their salary threshold increase to $50,180.

The threshold would continue rise incrementally until it reaches 2.5 times the state minimum wage, and then continue to rise with inflation, according to a Q&A on the new rule with Washington’s L&I department. By 2026, an estimated 252,000 Washington state employees would be eligible for overtime pay.

For some employees exempt from overtime pay, including those in the tech industry, the state rule would raise minimum wage to help offset the difference.

If passed, the new rule would represent the first increase in Washington state’s salary threshold since 1976.

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