The Washington State Department of Labor and Industries has released the updated Salary Threshold Implementation Schedule for 2024. The threshold salary requirement for exempt employees is determined through a calculation based upon minimum wage. For 2024, the salary threshold was pre-set by the Legislature to be twice the minimum wage. Each time a new schedule is released, it provides the salary thresholds for the upcoming year and estimated thresholds for the remaining years based upon projections of minimum wage. Since the values for future years are based upon projections that may change, it is important that employers who wish to classify employees as exempt verify the threshold numbers each year.
Minimum wage is set by the State each September and has been set at $16.28 per hour for 2024. The increase to minimum wage for 2024 is smaller than projected last year, which has resulted in a smaller increase to the salary threshold for exempt employees. The 2024 salary threshold level for 2024 is the same for small and large employers and is set at $1,302.40 per week (or $67,724.80 annually).
Employees must be designated as either exempt or non-exempt and classification is dictated by the law. Non-exempt employees must be paid at least minimum wage for all hours worked, they are entitled to overtime pay for hours worked in excess of 40 in a week and are entitled to all protections guaranteed by the state MWA, including sick leave. Exempt employees, on the other hand, are not entitled to overtime pay, not required to earn at least minimum wage for all hours worked, and are not guaranteed other protections under the MWA, including paid sick leave. In order to be classified as exempt, an employees generally must satisfy a three-part test.
What amounts count as salary has not changed and continues to include those set amounts paid on a recurring basis to compensate for work performed. Washington state law does not include board, lodging, housing, bonuses, commission, and benefits as salary.
Employees who no longer meet the salary threshold requirement may not remain exempt employees. Employers are not required to increase employee wages for those who have fallen below the salary threshold unless they wish the employee to remain exempt.
It is very important that employers do not misclassify non-exempt employees as exempt. Claims against employers for unpaid wages can be a costly mistake, particularly when attorney’s fees and costs are also considered.
If you have questions about the classification of your employees, please contact Member Care.
*Computer professionals may be deemed exempt either by meeting the minimum salary threshold or by paying an hourly amount of at least $56.98 per hour (3.5-time minimum wage).