Mt. Baker Chapter of SHRM

2024 Employment Law Updates

Thursday, December 21, 2023 3:17 PM | Marley Morgan

Key Highlights:  

  • The Washington State minimum wage rate for nonexempt employees aged sixteen and older will increase by 3.4 percent in 2024, reaching $16.28 per hour. 
  • Overtime exempt workers must be paid at twice the annual minimum wage rate, regardless of the size of the employer. 
  • May 1, 2024, Bellingham's minimum wage will increase to $17.28/hour. 

Washington State Overtime Rules Update 

  • As of January 1, 2024, in order to maintain exempt status, an employee’s salary must be at least $67,724.80 annually, which equates to 2x’s the state minimum wage. 
  • This change comes with the elimination of a differentiation between previously identified small employers (1-50 employees) and large employers (51+ employees). 
  • Also noteworthy, by January 1, 2028, the salary threshold is planned to increase to 2.5x’s the minimum wage rate, projected currently to be $92,560.00.  
  • Salary Threshold Implementation Schedule 

Minimum Wage

  • Starting May 1, 2024, Bellingham, Washington, will join other jurisdictions in the state with its own minimum wage rate, a result of a voter-approved ballot measure in November 2023.
    • May 1, 2024: $17.28
    • May 1, 2025: Washington State minimum wage plus $2
    • Starting January 1, 2026, Bellingham will synchronize its increases with the start of each year, maintaining the minimum wage as the Washington State rate plus $2.
    • Bellingham Washington Minimum Wage Law in 2024 - GovDocs
  • January 1, 2024, Washington’s minimum wage will increase to $16.28 per hour (23-29 (
  • Other Local Minimum Wage Increases (WA State):
    • SeaTac:  Minimum wage will increase to $19.71 per hour for covered hospitality and transportation industry workers.
    • Seattle: For employers with 501 or more employees, the minimum wage will rise to $19.97 per hour. Small employers (those with 500 or fewer employees) will experience varying increases based on factors like medical benefits and tips.
    • Tukwila: Minimum wage will be $18.29 per hour for mid-size employers and $20.29 per hour for large employers during the period of January 1, 2024 to June 30, 2024. On July 1, 2024, the minimum wage for mid-size employers will increase to $19.29 per hour, while the rate for large employers will remain at $20.29 per hour.

      Changes to Pre-employment Drug Screening

      • Washington SB 5123
      • Beginning on January 1, 2024, it will be unlawful for many Washington employers to discriminate against an applicant based on the applicant’s personal use of cannabis off the job and away from the worksite.
      • Employers cannot make hiring decision based on the results of a pre-employment drug screen that tests for Non psychoactive cannabis metabolites. 
      • The new statute includes a number of exceptions including: positions requiring a federal government background or security clearance, law enforcement, fire departments, other first responders, corrections officers, airline and aerospace positions, and safety sensitive positions where impairment would present a substantial risk of death.  
      • The safety sensitive position exception will be the most significant for the broadest range of employers.  Importantly, the applicant must be informed that it is a safety sensitive position before the applicant’s application for employment.  Employers should ensure that job descriptions identify safety sensitive positions and any recruiters, human resources professionals, or others that might be soliciting applicants are aware of safety sensitive positions and inform applicants prior to application.

      Paid Family and Medical Leave

      • Washington SB 5586
      • Provides that a current employer, a current employer's third-party administrator, or an employee may request access to an employee’s Washington Paid Family and Medical Leave Act claim records for the purpose of administering internal employer leave or benefit practices.

      Paid Sick Leave

      • Washington SB 5111
      • Provides that employers must pay certain temporary construction workers, who have not been employed for 90 days, the balance of their accrued and unused paid sick leave upon separation from employment.


      Salary Threshold for Non-compete Agreements
      • Non-Compete Agreements (
      • In WA State, the thresholds for non-compete agreements will rise to a minimum annual salary of $120,559.99 for employees and approximately $301,399.98 for independent contractors. Further, in 2023 the Federal Trade Commission proposed a rule that would ban non-compete agreements nationwide, however a decision regarding this proposal will not be voted on until at least April 2024.

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