Burien City Council approves minimum wage legislation

Mar 28, 2024
Written by WR Communications


On March 18, the Burien City Council passed its minimum wage legislation, following a year of stakeholder meetings with the business community and worker advocates. The new wage standard takes effect on January 1, 2025.

Under the Burien minimum wage law, businesses are broken down into three categories:

  1. Large employers (“Level 1”) employ more than 500 FTEs in King County or franchisors who employ more than 500 FTEs in total. These employers will pay $3 above the Washington state minimum wage (currently $16.28 per hour).
  2. Medium-sized employers (“Level 2”) that employ 21 – 499 FTEs in King County. This group, which also covers franchisees, will pay $2 above the state minimum wage.
  3. Small employers (“Level 3”) that employ 20 or fewer FTEs in King County are exempt from the City’s wage standard.

Level 1 employers whose total compensation (including tips and medical benefits) is at least $3 per hour (or $2 per hour for Level 2 employers) can apply that amount to meet the minimum wage requirement. In other words, a Level 2 employer whose total non-wage benefits are $2 per hour (or above) can continue to pay at the state minimum wage level. The goal of this total compensation credit is to preserve employer-provided health care and other benefits.

The legislation includes a private right of action but provides employers 45 days to “cure” before any enforcement action or lawsuit can be filed.

WR Board member Marisa Wulff and John Engber of the WR government affairs team testified in support of the wage law at the Council’s February 26 meeting.

Not surprisingly, some worker advocates are already vowing to fight the new law. Raise the Wage Burien and others are beginning to collect signatures to qualify a higher-wage initiative for the November general election ballot. These groups successfully passed initiatives in Tukwila and Renton to establish the nation’s highest minimum wages (currently $20.29 per hour).

So, the effort to enact a fair wage that meets the needs of workers and small businesses might not be over. We will keep you informed on future developments in Burien.


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