State Law > Washington > Washington Wage Payment Law

Washington Wage Payment Law

 

Washington's wage payment law is codified in Title 49, Chapter 49.48, of the Annotated Revised Code of Washington.

  • RCW 49.48.010 Payment of wages due to employee ceasing work to be at end of pay period -- Exceptions -- Authorized deductions or withholdings.
  • RCW 49.48.020 Penalty for noncompliance with RCW 49.48.010 through 49.48.030 and 49.48.060.
  • RCW 49.48.030 Attorney's fee in action on wages -- Exception.
  • RCW 49.48.040 Enforcement of wage claims -- Issuance of subpoenas -- Compliance.
  • RCW 49.48.050 Remedy cumulative.
  • RCW 49.48.060 Director may require bond after assignment of wage claims -- Court action -- Penalty for failure to pay wage claim.
  • RCW 49.48.070 Enforcement.
  • RCW 49.48.080 Public employees excluded.
  • RCW 49.48.115 Employer defined.
  • RCW 49.48.120 Payment on employee's death.
  • RCW 49.48.150 Sales representatives -- Definitions.
  • RCW 49.48.160 Sales representatives -- Contract -- Agreement.
  • RCW 49.48.170 Sales representatives -- Payment.
  • RCW 9.92.030 Punishment of misdemeanor when not fixed by statute.

  • RCW 49.48.010

    Payment of wages due to employee ceasing work to be at end of pay period -- Exceptions -- Authorized deductions or withholdings.
    When any employee shall cease to work for an employer, whether by discharge or by voluntary withdrawal, the wages due him on account of his employment shall be paid to him at the end of the established pay period: PROVIDED, HOWEVER, That this paragraph shall not apply when workers are engaged in an employment that normally involves working for several employers in the same industry interchangeably, and the several employers or some of them cooperate to establish a plan for the weekly payment of wages at a central place or places and in accordance with a unified schedule of paydays providing for at least one payday each week; but this subsection shall not apply to any such plan until ten days after notice of their intention to set up such a plan shall have been given to the director of labor and industries by the employers who cooperate to establish the plan; and having once been established, no such plan can be abandoned except after notice of their intention to abandon such plan has been given to the director of labor and industries by the employers intending to abandon the plan: PROVIDED FURTHER, That the duty to pay an employee forthwith shall not apply if the labor-management agreement under which the employee has been employed provides otherwise.

    It shall be unlawful for any employer to withhold or divert any portion of an employee's wages unless the deduction is:

    (1) Required by state or federal law; or

    (2) Specifically agreed upon orally or in writing by the employee and employer; or

    (3) For medical, surgical or hospital care or service, pursuant to any rule or regulation: PROVIDED, HOWEVER, That the deduction is openly, clearly and in due course recorded in the employer's books and records.

    Paragraph *three of this section shall not be construed to affect the right of any employer or former employer to sue upon or collect any debt owed to said employer or former employer by his employees or former employees.

    RCW 49.48.020

    Penalty for noncompliance with RCW 49.48.010 through 49.48.030 and 49.48.060.
    Any person, firm, or corporation which violates any of the provisions of RCW 49.48.010 through 49.48.030 and 49.48.060 shall be guilty of a misdemeanor.

    RCW 49.48.030

    Attorney's fee in action on wages -- Exception.
    In any action in which any person is successful in recovering judgment for wages or salary owed to him, reasonable attorney's fees, in an amount to be determined by the court, shall be assessed against said employer or former employer: PROVIDED, HOWEVER, That this section shall not apply if the amount of recovery is less than or equal to the amount admitted by the employer to be owing for said wages or salary.

    RCW 49.48.040

    Enforcement of wage claims -- Issuance of subpoenas -- Compliance.
    (1) The department of labor and industries may:

    (a) Upon obtaining information indicating an employer may be committing a violation under chapters 39.12, 49.46, and 49.48 RCW, conduct investigations to ensure compliance with chapters 39.12, 49.46, and 49.48 RCW;

    (b) Order the payment of all wages owed the workers and institute actions necessary for the collection of the sums determined owed; and

    (c) Take assignments of wage claims and prosecute actions for the collection of wages of persons who are financially unable to employ counsel when in the judgment of the director of the department the claims are valid and enforceable in the courts.

    (2) The director of the department or any authorized representative may, for the purpose of carrying out RCW 49.48.040 through 49.48.080: (a) Issue subpoenas to compel the attendance of witnesses or parties and the production of books, papers, or records; (b) administer oaths and examine witnesses under oath; (c) take the verification of proof of instruments of writing; and (d) take depositions and affidavits. If assignments for wage claims are taken, court costs shall not be payable by the department for prosecuting such suits.

    (3) The director shall have a seal inscribed "Department of Labor and Industries--State of Washington" and all courts shall take judicial notice of such seal. Obedience to subpoenas issued by the director or authorized representative shall be enforced by the courts in any county.

    (4) The director or authorized representative shall have free access to all places and works of labor. Any employer or any agent or employee of such employer who refuses the director or authorized representative admission therein, or who, when requested by the director or authorized representative, wilfully neglects or refuses to furnish the director or authorized representative any statistics or information pertaining to his or her lawful duties, which statistics or information may be in his or her possession or under the control of the employer or agent, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor.

    RCW 49.48.050

    Remedy cumulative.
    Nothing herein contained shall be construed to limit the authority of the prosecuting attorney of any county to prosecute actions, both civil and criminal, for such violations of RCW 49.48.040 through 49.48.080 as may come to his knowledge, or to enforce the provisions hereof independently and without specific direction of the director of labor and industries.

    RCW 49.48.060  Director may require bond after assignment of wage claims -- Court action -- Penalty for failure to pay wage claim.

    (1) If upon investigation by the director, after taking assignments of any wage claim under RCW 49.48.040 or after receiving a wage complaint as defined in RCW 49.48.082 from an employee, it appears to the director that the employer is representing to his employees that he is able to pay wages for their services and that the employees are not being paid for their services, the director may require the employer to give a bond in such sum as the director deems reasonable and adequate  in the circumstances, with sufficient surety, conditioned that the employer will for a definite future period not exceeding six months conduct his business and pay his employees in accordance with the laws of the state of Washington. 

    (2) If within ten days after demand for such bond the employer fails to provide the same, the director may commence a suit against the employer in the superior court of appropriate jurisdiction to compel him to furnish such bond or cease doing business until he has done so. The employer shall have the burden of proving the amount thereof to be excessive. 

    (3) If the court finds that there is just cause for requiring such bond and that the same is reasonable, necessary or appropriate to secure the prompt payment of the wages of the employees of such employer and his compliance with one or more wage payment requirements as defined in RCW 49.48.082, the court shall enjoin such employer from doing business in this state until the requirement is met, or shall make other, and may make further, orders appropriate to compel compliance with the requirement.

    (4) Upon being informed of a wage claim against an employer or former employer, the director shall, if such claim appears to be just, immediately notify the employer or former employer, of such claim by mail. If the employer or former employer fails to pay the claim or make satisfactory explanation to the director of his failure to do so, within thirty days thereafter, the employer or former employer shall be liable to a penalty of ten percent of that portion of the claim found to be justly due. The director shall have a cause of action against the employer or former employer for the recovery of such penalty, and the same may be included in any subsequent action by the director on said wage claim, or may be exercised separately after adjustment of such wage claim without court action. This subsection does not apply to wage complaints made under RCW 49.48.083.

    RCW 49.48.070

    Enforcement.
    It shall be the duty of the director of labor and industries to inquire diligently for any violations of RCW 49.48.040 through 49.48.080, and to institute the actions for penalties herein provided, and to enforce generally the provisions of RCW 49.48.040 through 49.48.080.

    RCW 49.48.080

    Public employees excluded.
    Nothing in RCW 49.48.040 through 49.48.080 shall apply to the payment of wages or compensation of employees directly employed by any county, incorporated city or town, or other municipal corporation. Nor shall anything herein apply to employees, directly employed by the state, any department, bureau, office, board, commission or institution hereof.

    RCW 49.48.115

    Employer defined.
    For the purposes of RCW 49.48.120 the word "employer" shall include every person, firm, partnership, corporation, the state of Washington, and all municipal corporations.

    RCW 49.48.120

    Payment on employee's death.
    If at the time of the death of any person, his employer is indebted to him for work, labor, and services performed, and no executor or administrator of his estate has been appointed, such employer shall upon the request of the surviving spouse forthwith pay said indebtedness, in such an amount as may be due not exceeding the sum of two thousand five hundred dollars, to the said surviving spouse or if the decedent leaves no surviving spouse, then to the child or children, or if no children, then to the father or mother of said decedent: PROVIDED, HOWEVER, That if by virtue of a community property agreement between the decedent and the surviving spouse, which meets the requirements of RCW 26.16.120, the right to such indebtedness became the sole property of the surviving spouse upon the death of the decedent, the employer shall pay to the surviving spouse the total of such indebtedness or that portion which is governed by the community property agreement upon presentation of said agreement accompanied by affidavit of the surviving spouse stating that such agreement was executed in good faith between the parties thereto and had not been rescinded by the parties prior to the death of the decedent: PROVIDED FURTHER, That in all cases the employer shall require proof of claimant's relationship to decedent by affidavit, and shall require claimant to acknowledge receipt of such payment in writing. Any payments made by an employer pursuant to the provisions of RCW 49.48.115 and 49.48.120 shall operate as a full and complete discharge of the employer's indebtedness to the extent of said payment, and no employer shall thereafter be liable therefor to the decedent's estate, or the decedent's executor or administrator thereafter appointed. The employer may also pay the indebtedness upon presentation of an affidavit as provided in RCW 11.62.010.

    RCW 49.48.150

    Sales representatives -- Definitions.
    Unless the context clearly requires otherwise, the definitions in this section apply throughout RCW 49.48.160 through 49.48.190.

    (1) "Commission" means compensation paid a sales representative by a principal in an amount based on a percentage of the dollar amount of certain orders for or sales of the principal's product.

    (2) "Principal" means a person, whether or not the person has a permanent or fixed place of business in this state, who:

    (a) Manufactures, produces, imports, or distributes a product for sale to customers who purchase the product for resale;

    (b) Uses a sales representative to solicit orders for the product; and

    (c) Compensates the sales representative in whole or in part by commission.

    (3) "Sales representative" means a person who solicits, on behalf of a principal, orders for the purchase at wholesale of the principal's product, but does not include a person who places orders for his own account for resale, or purchases for his own account for resale, or sells or takes orders for the direct sale of products to the ultimate consumer.

    RCW 49.48.160

    Sales representatives -- Contract -- Agreement.
    (1) A contract between a principal and a sales representative under which the sales representative is to solicit wholesale orders within this state must be in writing and must set forth the method by which the sales representative's commission is to be computed and paid. The principal shall provide the sales representative with a copy of the contract. A provision in the contract establishing venue for an action arising under the contract in a state other than this state is void.

    (2) When no written contract has been entered into, any agreement between a sales representative and a principal is deemed to incorporate the provisions of RCW 49.48.150 through 49.48.190.

    (3) During the course of the contract, a sales representative shall be paid the earned commission and all other moneys earned or payable in accordance with the agreed terms of the contract, but no later than thirty days after receipt of payment by the principal for products or goods sold on behalf of the principal by the sales representative.
    Upon termination of a contract, whether or not the agreement is in writing, all earned commissions due to the sales representative shall be paid within thirty days after receipt of payment by the principal for products or goods sold on behalf of the principal by the sales representative, including earned commissions not due when the contract is terminated.

    RCW 49.48.170

    Sales representatives -- Payment.
    A principal shall pay wages and commissions at the usual place of payment unless the sales representative requests that the wages and commissions be sent through registered mail. If, in accordance with a request by the sales representative, the sales representative's wages and commissions are sent through the mail, the wages and commissions are deemed to have been paid as of the date of their registered postmark.

    RCW 49.48

    Definitions.
    Sec. 1. The definitions in this section apply throughout this section and sections 2 through 5 of this act:
    (1) "Citation" means a written determination by the department that a wage payment requirement has been violated.

    (2) "Department" means the department of labor and industries.

    (3) "Determination of compliance" means a written determination by the department that wage payment requirements have not been violated.

    (4) "Director" means the director of the department of labor and industries, or the director's authorized representative.

    (5) "Employee" has the meaning provided in: (a) RCW 49.46.010 for purposes of a wage payment requirement set forth in RCW 49.46.020 or 49.46.130; and (b) RCW 49.12.005 for purposes of a wage payment requirement set forth in RCW 49.48.010, 49.52.050, or 49.52.060.

    (6) "Employer" has the meaning provided in RCW 49.46.010 for purposes of a wage payment requirement set forth in RCW 49.46.020, 49.46.130, 49.48.010, 49.52.050, or 49.52.060.

    (7) "Notice of assessment" means a written notice by the department that, based on a citation, the employer shall pay the amounts assessed under section 2 of this act.

    (8) "Wage" has the meaning provided in RCW 49.46.010.

    (9) "Wage complaint" means a complaint from an employee to the department that asserts that an employer has violated one or more wage payment requirements and that is reduced to writing.

    (10) "Wage payment requirement" means a wage payment requirement set forth in RCW 49.46.020, 49.46.130, 49.48.010, 49.52.050, or 49.52.060, and any related rules adopted by the department.

    (11) "Willful" means a knowing and intentional action that is neither accidental nor the result of a bona fide dispute, as evaluated under the standards applicable to wage payment violations under RCW 49.52.050(2).


    RCW 49.48.

    Wage complaints; Department of labor and industries; Civil penalties.
    Sec. 2.

    (1) If an employee files a wage complaint with the department, the department shall investigate the wage complaint. Unless otherwise resolved, the department shall issue either a citation and notice of assessment or a determination of compliance: (a) No later than sixty days after the date on which the department received the wage complaint, unless the department extends this time period for good cause; and (b) no later than three years after the date on which the cause of action accrued, unless a longer period of time applies under law. Such cause of action for wage claims accrues from the date when the wages are due. The department shall send the citation and notice of assessment or the determination of compliance to both the employer and the employee by service of process or certified mail to their last known addresses.

    (2) If the department determines that an employer has violated a wage payment requirement and issues to the employer a citation and notice of assessment, the department may order the employer to pay employees all wages owed, including interest of one percent per month on all wages owed, to the employee.

    (3) If the department determines that the violation of the wage payment requirement was a willful violation, the department also may order the employer to pay the department a civil penalty as specified in (a) of this subsection.

    (a) A civil penalty for a willful violation of a wage payment requirement shall be not less than five hundred dollars or an amount equal to ten percent of the total amount of unpaid wages, whichever is greater. The maximum civil penalty for a willful violation of a wage payment requirement shall be twenty thousand dollars.

    (b) The department may not assess a civil penalty if the employer reasonably relied on: (i) A rule related to any wage payment requirement; (ii) a written order, ruling, approval, opinion, advice, determination, or interpretation of the director; or (iii) an interpretive or administrative policy issued by the department and filed with the office of the code reviser. In accordance with the department's retention schedule obligations under chapter 40.14 RCW, the department shall maintain a complete and accurate record of all written orders, rulings, approvals, opinions, advice, determinations, and interpretations for purposes of determining whether an employer is immune from civil penalties under (b)(ii) of this subsection.

    (c) The department shall waive any civil penalty assessed against an employer under this section if the director determines that the employer has provided payment to the employee of all wages that the department determined that the employer owed to the employee, including interest, within ten business days of the employer's receipt of the citation and notice of assessment from the department.

    (d) The department may waive at any time a civil penalty assessed under this section, in whole or in part, if the director determines that the employer paid all wages owed to an employee.

    (e) The department shall deposit civil penalties paid under this section in the supplemental pension fund established under RCW 51.44.033.

    (4) Upon payment by an employer, and acceptance by an employee, of all wages and interest assessed by the department in a citation and notice of assessment issued to the employer, the fact of such payment by the employer, and of such acceptance by the employee, shall: (a) Constitute a full and complete satisfaction by the employer of all specific wage payment requirements addressed in the citation and notice of assessment; and (b) bar the employee from initiating or pursuing any court action or other judicial or administrative proceeding based on the specific wage payment requirements addressed in the citation and notice of assessment. The citation and notice of assessment shall include a notification and summary of the specific requirements of this subsection.

    RCW 49.48.

    Citation and notice of assessment or determination of compliance; Appeals; Orders.
    Sec. 3.

    (1) A person, firm, or corporation aggrieved by a citation and notice of assessment or a determination of compliance issued by the department under section 2 of this act may appeal the citation and notice of assessment or the determination of compliance to the director by filing a notice of appeal with the director within thirty days of the department's issuance of the citation and notice of assessment or the determination of compliance. A citation and notice of assessment or a determination of compliance not appealed within thirty days is final and binding, and not subject to further appeal.

    (2) A notice of appeal filed with the director under this section shall stay the effectiveness of the citation and notice of assessment or the determination of compliance pending final review of the appeal by the director as provided for in chapter 34.05 RCW.

    (3) Upon receipt of a notice of appeal, the director shall assign the hearing to an administrative law judge of the office of administrative hearings to conduct the hearing and issue an initial order. The hearing and review procedures shall be conducted in accordance with chapter 34.05 RCW, and the standard of review by the administrative law judge of an appealed citation and notice of assessment or an appealed determination of compliance shall be de novo. Any party who seeks to challenge an initial order shall file a petition for administrative review with the director within thirty days after service of the initial order. The director shall conduct administrative review in accordance with chapter 34.05 RCW.

    (4) The director shall issue all final orders after appeal of the initial order. The final order of the director is subject to judicial review in accordance with chapter 34.05 RCW.

    (5) Orders that are not appealed within the time period specified in this section and chapter 34.05 RCW are final and binding, and not subject to further appeal.

    (6) An employer who fails to allow adequate inspection of records in an investigation by the department under this chapter within a reasonable time period may not use such records in any appeal under this section to challenge the correctness of any determination by the department of wages owed.

    RCW 49.48.

    Employee may terminate administrative action; Rights of employee and Department.
    Sec. 4.

    (1) An employee who has filed a wage complaint with the department may elect to terminate the department's administrative action, thereby preserving any private right of action, by providing written notice to the department within ten business days after the employee's receipt of the department's citation and notice of assessment.

    (2) If the employee elects to terminate the department's administrative action: (a) The department shall immediately discontinue its action against the employer; (b) the department shall vacate a citation and notice of assessment already issued by the department to the employer; and (c) the citation and notice of assessment, and any related findings of fact or conclusions of law by the department, and any payment or offer of payment by the employer of the wages, including interest, assessed by the department in the citation and notice of assessment, shall not be admissible in any court action or other judicial or administrative proceeding.

    (3) Nothing in this section shall be construed to limit or affect: (a) The right of any employee to pursue any judicial, administrative, or other action available with respect to an employer; (b) the right of the department to pursue any judicial, administrative, or other action available with respect to an employee that is identified as a result of a wage complaint; or (c) the right of the department to pursue any judicial, administrative, or other action available with respect to an employer in the absence of a wage complaint. For purposes of this subsection, "employee" means an employee other than an employee who has filed a wage complaint with the department and who thereafter has elected to terminate the department's administrative action as provided in subsection (1) of this section.

    RCW 49.48.

    Collection of wages owed.
    Sec. 5.

    (1) After a final order is issued under section 3 of this act, if an employer defaults in the payment of: (a) Any wages determined by the department to be owed to an employee, including interest; or (b) any civil penalty ordered by the department under section 2 of this act, the director may file with the clerk of any county within the state a warrant in the amount of the payment plus any filing fees. The clerk of the county in which the warrant is filed shall immediately designate a superior court cause number for the warrant, and the clerk shall cause to be entered in the judgment docket under the superior court cause number assigned to the warrant, the name of the employer mentioned in the warrant, the amount of payment due on it plus any filing fees, and the date when the warrant was filed. The aggregate amount of the warrant as docketed becomes a lien upon the title to, and interest in, all real and personal property of the employer against whom the warrant is issued, the same as a judgment in a civil case docketed in the office of the clerk. The sheriff shall proceed upon the warrant in all respects and with like effect as prescribed by law with respect to execution or other process issued against rights or property upon judgment in a court of competent jurisdiction. The warrant so docketed is sufficient to support the issuance of writs of garnishment in favor of the state in a manner provided by law in case of judgment, wholly or partially unsatisfied. The clerk of the court is entitled to a filing fee which will be added to the amount of the warrant. A copy of the warrant shall be mailed to the employer within three days of filing with the clerk.

    (2)

    (a) The director may issue to any person, firm, corporation, other entity, municipal corporation, political subdivision of the state, a public corporation, or any agency of the state, a notice and order to withhold and deliver property of any kind when he or she has reason to believe that there is in the possession of the person, firm, corporation, other entity, municipal corporation, political subdivision of the state, public corporation, or agency of the state, property that is or will become due, owing, or belonging to an employer upon whom a notice of assessment has been served by the department for payments or civil penalties due to the department. The effect of a notice and order is continuous from the date the notice and order is first made until the liability out of which the notice and order arose is satisfied or becomes unenforceable because of lapse of time. The department shall release the notice and order when the liability out of which the notice and order arose is satisfied or becomes unenforceable by reason of lapse of time and shall notify the person against whom the notice and order was made that the notice and order has been released.

    (b) The notice and order to withhold and deliver must be served by the sheriff of the county or by the sheriff's deputy, by certified mail, return receipt requested, or by the director. A person, firm, corporation, other entity, municipal corporation, political subdivision of the state, public corporation, or agency of the state upon whom service has been made shall answer the notice within twenty days exclusive of the day of service, under oath and in writing, and shall make true answers to the matters inquired of in the notice and order. Upon service of the notice and order, if the party served possesses any property that may be subject to the claim of the department, the party shall promptly deliver the property to the director. The director shall hold the property in trust for application on the employer's indebtedness to the department, or for return without interest, in accordance with a final determination of a petition for review. In the alternative, the party shall furnish a good and sufficient surety bond satisfactory to the director conditioned upon final determination of liability. If a party served and named in the notice fails to answer the notice within the time prescribed in this section, the court may render judgment by default against the party for the full amount claimed by the director in the notice, together with costs. If a notice is served upon an employer and the property subject to it is wages, the employer may assert in the answer all exemptions provided for by chapter 6.27 RCW to which the wage earner is entitled.

    (3) In addition to the procedure for collection of wages owed, including interest, and civil penalties as set forth in this section, the department may recover wages owed, including interest, and civil penalties assessed under section 2 of this act in a civil action brought in a court of competent jurisdiction of the county where the violation is alleged to have occurred.

    (4) This section does not affect other collection remedies that are otherwise provided by law.

    RCW 49.48. --. Rulemaking.

    Sec. 6. The director may adopt rules to carry out the purposes of sections 1 through 5 of this act.

    RCW 9.92.030

    Punishment of misdemeanor when not fixed by statute.
    Every person convicted of a misdemeanor for which no punishment is prescribed by any statute in force at the time of conviction and sentence, shall be punished by imprisonment in the county jail for a maximum term fixed by the court of not more than ninety days, or by a fine in an amount fixed by the court of not more than one thousand dollars or both such imprisonment and fine.

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