Washington Employment Laws: What are the Employment Laws in Washington?
Employment Laws in Washington
Employment laws are a set of rules and regulations which codifies the rights, duties, and obligations of employees, employers and labor unions within an organization. The primary aim of labor laws is to correct the imbalance of bargaining rights amongst various parties involved in the day-to-day operations of an organization. Throughout the 20th Century, the United States of America has codified into law the minimum set of social and economic rights, starting in 1938; however, it advocates the states of the federation to go above and beyond the minimal set of regulations.
The state of Washington has regulations regarding employee-employer relations to ensure fair transactions and secures the rights for employees to demand safe working conditions which are not detrimental to the mind and body. Enforced by the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries, these laws fall into the following categories:
Wage Laws: The minimum wage for any employee working within the jurisdiction of Washington state is $10.20; with workers in certain jurisdictions required to be paid above the minimum wage in certain local jurisdictions within the state. Almost all employees are required to be paid overtime if working hours extend beyond 40 hours within a seven-day work week. The overtime is calculated at one-and-a-half times the nominal rate of pay per hour.
Businesses have the option to make overtime mandatory for employees; except for certain occupations. Organizations are required to pay employees on regular pre-established paydays, with the maximum duration between each pay-day being a month. Furthermore, employees are required to be provided a 10-minute paid break for every four hours of continuous work Businesses are not required to provide raises except for those who are being paid minimum wage; which is raised annually by the Washington state government on January 1.
Furthermore, paid sick leaves can also be used for employees under the State Domestic Violence Leave Act. Also, certain regulations apply for pregnant women including longer or flexible restroom breaks, seating arrangements, limiting loads to be lifted below seventeen pounds, flexibility for pre-natal medical check-up visits, and transferring to a less strenuous position if deemed suitable by the employer. For businesses that require employees to wear a uniform, it needs to be paid for by the organization. Any apparel that identifies the employee with the business has the business logo, or has an ethnic or historical theme can be considered as a uniform. Certain types of clothing which are commonly available in certain colors cannot be construed as a uniform even if the workplace requires employees to wear them.
Termination Laws: Businesses operating in Washington state cannot discriminate employees for filing a workplace rights complaint, workplace safety complaint or claiming for injury during work. Washington is an "at will" state, with employers are not required to provide a notice to an employee before firing; and likewise, an employee can quit without informing the employer.
In case of termination of employment, an employee can request for a written document about the reason for discharge by sending a written request, with organizations having to respond within ten days of the receipt of the employee's request. For wrongful termination or termination due to discrimination of race, sex, color, age, and religion; employees can contact the Human Rights Commission or seek advice from a private attorney for wrongful termination.