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Hours Worked: Washington

Hours Worked 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


  • An employer must compensate employees for all hours worked, and cannot escape this obligation by adopting policies that require prior approval for overtime or work outside of a schedule. See Overview.
  • "Hours worked" is defined by regulation as all time when an employee is authorized or required by the employer to be on duty on the employer's premises or at a prescribed workplace. See Overview.
  • Employees must be allowed to take a meal period if they work a certain amount of time. Employees also must be provided rest periods under certain circumstances. See Break Periods.
  • Washington's administrative guidance also addresses several other issues involving hours worked. See Waiting Time and On-Call Time; Travel Time; Training, Lectures and Meetings; Sleeping and Activities Before and After a Shift ('Preliminary and Postliminary').
  • The Seattle Secure Scheduling Ordinance requires covered retail and food establishments to provide predictable schedules and related protections to employees. The ordinance includes several provisions that touch on working time concerns. See Seattle Secure Scheduling Ordinance.