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Payment of Wages: Washington

Payment of Wages requirements for other states

Federal law and guidance on this subject should be reviewed together with this section.

Author: Patrick M. Madden, K&L Gates LLP


  • Wages must be paid in cash, or by check immediately convertible into cash. Employers may require direct deposit and other payment alternatives if employees incur no cost. See Wage Payment Methods.
  • Employees must be paid at least monthly. Depending on the frequency of payment, paydays may occur either seven or 10 days after the pay period ends. A separate payday may be established for overtime pay, under certain circumstances. There are additional requirements for employees using leave time under the Washington Paid Sick and Safe Leave Law. See Pay Frequency.
  • Deductions from wages are generally allowed if required by state or federal law, if they are for health care or insurance, or if they are voluntary, authorized in writing and are solely for the benefit of the employee. See Permitted and Prohibited Wage Deductions.
  • The Seattle Secure Scheduling Ordinance requires certain retail and food establishments to provide predictable schedules and related protections to employees. Covered employers must provide employees with advance notice and postings of their work schedules as well as a certain amount of compensation each time they request a schedule change. Covered employers must also keep certain records documenting compliance with the requirements of the ordinance for a specific period of time. Penalties are imposed for failure to comply with the ordinance. See Seattle Secure Scheduling Ordinance.
  • Employers must provide employees with written, itemized pay statements every payday containing specific information. Electronically provided pay statements are permitted if certain requirements are met. An employer may use pay statements to satisfy the notice requirements of the Washington Paid Sick and Safe Leave Law. In addition, the City of Seattle Paid Sick and Safe Time Ordinance requires employers to satisfy certain employee-notification requirements each time wages are paid. Under the City of Seattle Wage Theft Ordinance, employers also must provide certain written employment information to new hires and any time the information changes. Specific recordkeeping requirements apply. See Pay Statement Requirements.
  • A terminated employee must be paid final wages at the end of the next regular pay period. Employers must pay employees for accrued vacation if the employer has a policy or contract providing for it or has otherwise promised to pay it. Employers covered under the Washington Paid Sick and Safe Leave Law may choose to pay employees for a portion of their accrued, unused leave time when employment ends, if agreed to in writing. See Termination Pay.
  • After the death of an employee, employers must follow detailed rules to assure that they pay any remaining wages to the correct party. See Deceased Employee Wages.
  • Wages unclaimed for one year are considered abandoned property. Washington law requires employers to file a report with the Department of Revenue and send due diligence notices to employees who have unclaimed wages. Penalties are imposed for failure to report and remit unclaimed wages. See Unclaimed Wages.