Effective January 1, 2011 the Washington minimum wage increases by 12 cents from $8.55 to $8.67 per hour. The state’s minimum wage will remain the highest in the year 2011, followed by Oregon at $8.50 per hour.
Tipped employees in Washington are entitled to the full minimum wage of $8.67 per hour because the state does not allow a tip credit.
The 1.4% increase is based on the nationwide Consumer Price Index for Urban and Clerical Workers in the year ending August 31, 2010. The increase was announced by Washington Bureau of Labor and Industry Judy Schurke after some legal debate, including an alternate opinion by the state Attorney General’s office.
Across the nation, nine states make annual adjustments to the minimum wage in January. Those states include Oregon, Vermont, Ohio, Arizona, Montana, Colorado, Nevada, Florida and Missouri, in addition to Washington.
Many states exempt agricultural workers from the minimum wage, but Washington does not. However, in many cases agricultural workers are exempt from (more…)
In a recent suit, the Washington appeals court ruled that a background check company is not liable for inaccurate information, unless that info is delivered with malice or the willful intent to injure the applicant.
In Van Hoven v. Pre-Employee.com Inc, applicant Shawn Van Hoven received a conditional offer of employment from Central Washington Hospital after indicating on his application that he had never been convicted of any crime.
The hospital HR Director hired Pre-Employee.com, Inc to perform a background check on Van Hoven. The company reported that Van Hoven had been convicted of marijuana possession and of attempted possession of drug paraphernalia. This report was inaccurate, and was later changed to show that the charge of marijuana possession was dropped. Van Hoven had been convicted of attempted possession of drug paraphernalia several years earlier.
When the background check was discussed with Van Hoven, he did not deny a conviction on either charge or try to dispute the inaccurate information provided. Because Van Hoven had lied (more…)
The Washington minimum wage will remain at $8.55 per hour in 2010, the same rate as in 2009. This marks the first year there has been no increase in the state minimum wage since 1998. Despite this, the Washington minimum wage remains the highest in the nation.
The Washington Department of Labor & Industries or L&I calculates the state minimum wage each September under initiative 688, passed by voters in 1998. Under that law, the Washington minimum wage has risen from $5.15 in 1998 to $8.55 in 2009.
Each year the increase is based on change in the federal Consumer Price Index or CPI for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers during the 12 months ending on August 31.
For the 12 months ending August 31, 2009 the cost of living as measured by the CPI decreased 1.9%. While there is no provision under the law to reduce the Washington minimum wage, this means that there will be no increase.
A 5.9% increase in the CPI in 2008 led to an increase of 48 cents in the Washington minimum wage on January 1, 2009, making the Washington minimum wage the current rate of $8.55 per hour.
The Washington minimum wage applies to most workers and most industries in the state. Unlike many other states, the minimum wage applies even to agricultural workers. In one of the few loopholes, youths who are 14 or 15 years old may be paid 85% of the state minimum wage, or $7.27 per hour. That rate is slightly higher than the federal minimum wage of $7.25 for workers of all ages.
Nine states in addition to Washington adjust their minimum wages each year for inflation. They are Oregon, Vermont, Ohio, Nevada, Montana, Missouri, Florida, Colorado and Arizona. Most of those states plan no minimum wage increase for 2010. In Florida, the state minimum wage will increase by
On the other hand, in Colorado the state minimum wage will decrease by 4 cents from $7.28 per hour to $7.24 per hour. This marks the first time in history that any state minimum wage has decreased.
Tragically, heat-related illnesses in the workplace can result in disability and even death.
Employees should take these precautions when working outdoors, especially in hot, sunny conditions:
Drink as much as one cup of water every 15 minutes
Know the signs and symptoms of heat-related illness
Pace your work and take breaks.
Wear lightweight, light-colored clothing
Avoid alcohol, caffeine and heavy meals
The same precautions apply when employees work indoors without air conditioning, especially in industries involving heat such as factories and restaurant kitchens.
Heat-related illness can cause serious medical conditions, including disability and death.
The L&I emphasizes that Washington employers are required to provide safe working conditions for employees, including protection from heat-related illness.
Supervisors and workers should be trained to recognize the symptoms of heat stress and to respond. During especially hot weather, employees may need to take rest breaks as frequently as every hour. If possible, breaks should be taken in an air-conditioned location such as a building or vehicle.
Workers suffering from heat stress may be disoriented and unable to summon help. For that reason, employees should never work alone in hot weather. Employers should use the buddy system, with employees charged with the responsibility of watching out for each other. Employees should also be trained in responding to heat stress and heat stroke, including giving the worker extra liquids, cooling them off in an air-conditioned location, and summoning professional help.
More information and resources regarding outdoor heat exposure are available.
Washington employers have long complained about the high cost of doing business in the state, including workers’ compensation claims and insurance premiums. Now, they can take control of this annoying problem.
The seminar is free, but registration is required. Participants can register online or by calling 1-800-574-2829.
The complete schedule of dates and locations is here. The next workshop is in Kennewick on June 10, 2009. The final workshop this year is in Tacoma on December 9, 2009.
According to L&I, the workshop is an overview of basic workers’ comp claims management principles. Participants will learn: (more…)