You have many rights as an employee in Washington state. Fair pay, breaks, work hours, medical leave and more depend on your job, where you work, and how long you have worked there. Some jobs (such as ride-sharing with Lyft or Uber, or delivery with Amazon or DoorDash) are technically hiring you as a contractor and are not required to pay minimum wage, or to provide some of the same benefits as if you were working for a company.
It is also important to know that Washington is an at-will employment state. Businesses may fire any employee at any time, for any or no reason, as long as they are not violating any employee protection laws. Although they may need a photocopy, your employer cannot take your personal documents such as ID, passport, or social security card.
You should familiarize yourself with the following laws.
US Paid Family and Medical Leave Act
You can take 12 weeks of leave for the birth or adoption of a child or to care for a family member or your own serious health condition without losing health insurance.
Washington State Minimum Wage
The minimum wage in Washington state is $14.49 an hour. If you are being paid less than the minimum wage, you can file a complaint here. The minimum wage in certain cities or counties may be higher.
Washington State Protection Against Discrimination
Your employer cannot discriminate against you based on your race, color, national origin, sex, marital status, age, disability, sexual orientation/gender identity, veteran status, or use of a service animal.
Washington State Break Schedule
In Washington State, you must be given a 10 minute break every 4 hours. These rest breaks are counted as time worked. If you work more than 5 hours, you are allowed to take a 30 minute lunch. Your meal break is paid if you remain on duty, are on call, or have your meal interrupted. Your meal break is unpaid if you are completely free from work duties. You must always be allowed access to bathrooms.
Washington State Paid Sick Time
Every 40 hours worked, you accumulate 1 hour of paid sick leave. This accumulated sick leave can be used for a day off to care for the mental or physical illness, injury, or health condition of yourself or a family member. Your employer cannot retaliate against you for taking sick time.
Washington State Workplace Injuries
If you are injured at work, you are entitled to get medical help. Worker’s compensation will pay for medical care directly related to your accident or illness. Your employer is not allowed to retaliate against you if you are injured on the job.
Washington State Domestic Violence Leave
If you are experiencing domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking, your employer is required to allow you to take time off to make a plan to leave, to find a safe place, to get medical and psychological help, and/or to attend court proceedings.
Washington State Overtime
If you work overtime, meaning more than 40 hours a week, you are entitled to 1.5 times your regular pay for the extra hours worked.
Washington State Unemployment Benefits
Apply for unemployment benefits at this link if you are fired or lose your job and have worked in Washington State. Non-citizens of the United States can also apply for unemployment benefits. You must provide your alien registration documentation (A-number) for the department to verify your immigration status.