January 10, 2022

New Washington State Labor and Employment Laws for 2022

Holland & Knight Alert
Dayna E. Underhill | Trisha Thompson


  • The Washington State Legislature enacted several new laws that will impact the workplace in 2022.
  • Increases to minimum wage, pertinent earning thresholds and premium requirements took effect on Jan. 1.

The Washington State Legislature has enacted several new laws that will impact the workplace in 2022. In addition, increases to minimum wage and earning thresholds took effect on Jan. 1. This Holland & Knight alert provides a brief summary of select employment laws that went into effect on Jan. 1, 2022.

  • Minimum Wage/Exempt Salary Threshold: The Washington minimum wage for all employees over the age of 16 increased statewide from $13.69 to $14.49 per hour. Seattle and SeaTac have their own minimum wage rates. Employers should be aware that the salary threshold for exempt employees in Washington is tied to a multiple of the minimum wage. As a result of the minimum wage increase, the exempt salary threshold for all employers with Washington-based employees increases to $52,743.60 annually/$1,014.30 per week.
  • Washington Paid Family Leave Act (PFML): The PFML premium rate will rise from 0.4 percent to 0.6 percent of each employee's gross wages, up to the 2022 Social Security cap of $147,000. The total possible premium paid on behalf of an employee in 2022 will be $882. Employees must cover 73.22 percent (0.439 percent of wages) of the premium, while employers with 50 or more employees in Washington will cover 26.78 percent of the premium (0.161 percent of wages). Employers with one through 49 employees in Washington must deduct 73.22 percent of the premium from payroll and may choose (but are not obligated) to cover the remainder. The maximum weekly benefit paid by the state for employees on PFML leave will increase from $1,206 to $1,327.
  • Washington Wage Recovery Act: Among other provisions of which employers should be aware, employees with wage claims will be able to place a lien on certain of the employer's property. "Highly compensated" employees are excluded.
  • Noncompete Agreement Earning Thresholds for Employees and Contractors: Washington noncompetition agreements are subject to employee and contractor earnings thresholds. For 2022, in order for a noncompete to be enforceable against the employee, the employee's annual earnings must exceed $107,301.04. In addition, the 2022 threshold for contractors is $268,252.59.

For questions about how the new laws apply to your business and changes that may be required for your employee policies and practices, contact the authors of this alert or other employment counsel.

Information contained in this alert is for the general education and knowledge of our readers. It is not designed to be, and should not be used as, the sole source of information when analyzing and resolving a legal problem, and it should not be substituted for legal advice, which relies on a specific factual analysis. Moreover, the laws of each jurisdiction are different and are constantly changing. This information is not intended to create, and receipt of it does not constitute, an attorney-client relationship. If you have specific questions regarding a particular fact situation, we urge you to consult the authors of this publication, your Holland & Knight representative or other competent legal counsel.

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