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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


  • The Washington wage payment law broadly defines the term wages. See Definition of Wages.
  • 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. 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. All employers with employees in the state (except the federal government) and their employees must make payroll deductions for premium payments to fund the paid family and medical leave insurance program. See Permitted and Prohibited Wage Deductions.
  • The Washington Small Business Retirement Marketplace is a free, online marketplace where qualified financial services firms offer low-cost retirement savings plans that small employers (fewer than 100 employees) may offer to eligible employees. Employees who are eligible to participate in a retirement plan under the Internal Revenue Code are eligible to participate on a voluntary basis. See Washington Small Business Retirement Marketplace.
  • 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. 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.
  • Seattle has requirements pertaining to wage payments. See Local Requirements.