Office of Labor Standards: #2 – Seattle Minimum Wage

Please follow our discussion series as we post regular blogs on all the latest news with Seattle’s labor standards ordinances. We will also highlight various tools and resources that Business Impact NW can provide to educate and guide small business owners on understanding and complying with Seattle’s labor standards laws, such as Henry Wong’s in-person OLS class from 11:30 AM to 1:30 PM on November 1st.

For small business owners, Seattle’s Minimum Wage law is perhaps the most well known of Seattle’s labor standards ordinances. Currently, the minimum wage for small employers (500 or fewer employees) is $14.00. Small employers can pay $11.50 if they pay at least $2.50 per hour towards the individual employee’s medical benefits and/or the employee earns at least $2.50 per hour in tips. Note that if using tips to cover that difference, they must be reported to the IRS and be verifiable.

Employer size is calculated off the employer’s total number of individual employees worldwide. For franchises, count all employees in the franchise network.

Beginning January 1, 2019, small employers (with 500 or fewer employees) must pay at least $15.00 per hour. They can meet this requirement by paying no less than $12.00 per hour in wages and contributing at least $3.00 per hour towards an employee’s medical benefits and/or reported tips. This increase is part of a scheduled multi-year phase-in plan.

What are some things a small business owner can do in preparation?

  • As the year winds down, workforce planning should be one of the items on your year-end checklist. Think about how your labor costs will change next year and budget for that. Do you need to hire new employees? Can you afford to hire new employees?
  • Get your paperwork in order regarding the Seattle labor standards ordinances. This includes things like ensuring the required Paid Sick and Safe Time hours are carried over and getting new notice of employment information sheets filled out for employees who will have changes in their pay or position next year.
  • Evaluate your overall operations and determine if there are changes you can make to counter rising labor costs. For example, if you are a quick-service restaurant owner, consider self-bussing options for customers, which can decrease your labor costs. Cross-train employees so they can be shifted around to other areas of your business as needed. Think about adding online ordering or grab-and-go options, which incur relatively low incremental costs. Consider menu updates to streamline your operations. For other types of businesses, think about additional revenue streams you can add during slower shoulder seasons. Explore opportunities to move parts of your business online where you can reach a larger customer base. Think about whether there are partnership opportunities, local markets or space-sharing options that can bring in new customers.
  • Set up a free one-on-one consultation with a Business Coach at Business Impact NW to discuss other ideas for growing your business. Business coaches can guide you through the strategic planning process and help you determine which ideas are financially feasible and likely to yield positive results.

See the below multi-year minimum wage chart including information on minimum wage for large employers (501 or more employees) which will increase to $16.00 per hour beginning January 1, 2019.

[pdf-embedder url=”http://businessimpactnw.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/OLS-MW-Chart-2019.pdf” title=”OLS – MW Chart 2019″]

Be sure to follow our blog series as we continue to dive deeper into the details and impact of Seattle’s labor standards laws on small business owners.

About the author

Henry Wong

Henry Wong is a Business Consultant and Office of Labor Standards Project Manager at Business Impact NW. For small business owners with employees working in the city of Seattle or for owners planning to employ workers in Seattle, Business Impact NW can provide free resources and training for understanding and becoming compliant with Seattle’s labor standards laws. Email Henry Wong at henryw@businessimpactnw.org to schedule a free one-on-one counseling session. Larger group trainings are also available for organizations comprised of or engaging regularly with small business owners.

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Henry Wong View posts by Henry Wong

Henry Wong is a Business Consultant and Office of Labor Standards Project Manager at Business Impact NW. For small business owners with employees working in the city of Seattle or for owners planning to employ workers in Seattle, Business Impact NW can provide free resources and training for understanding and becoming compliant with Seattle’s labor standards laws. Email Henry Wong at henryw@businessimpactnw.org to schedule a free one-on-one counseling session. Larger group trainings are also available for organizations comprised of or engaging regularly with small business owners.
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