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Minimum Wage

In November 2015, Tacoma voters approved a $12 per hour minimum wage phased in over two years. The new minimum wage applies to almost all employees who work 80 or more hours per year within Tacoma city limits. Throughout 2017, the minimum wage was $11.15. Beginning January 1, 2018, the Tacoma minimum wage is $12.00 (2018 Workplace Notice Poster now available).


Check if your workplace is in the City of Tacoma

  The voter-approved initiative provided the following schedule for increases:
  • $10.35 per hour on February 1, 2016 (the same effective date as the Paid Leave Ordinance passed in January 2015)

  • $11.15 per hour on January 1, 2017

  • $12 per hour on January 1, 2018

  • Adjusted annually by the rate of inflation beginning January 1, 2019

The City of Tacoma underwent a public process to develop the rules in late 2015, including four meetings to collect community feedback. The now finalized Minimum Wage Rules guide implementation of the voter-approved minimum wage.


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Frequently Asked Questions About the New Minimum Wage

What employees are eligible for Tacoma's voter-approved minimum wage? 

All employees that work within Tacoma city limits for 80 or more hours per year are covered by the new minimum wage, except for a few uncommon exceptions outlined below.

Are any employees exempt from Tacoma's minimum wage?

State minimum wage laws will continue to apply to employees under the age of 16 as well as workers covered by special state certificates issued according to RCW 49.46.060 (disabled workers, learners, student learners, apprentices, student workers, etc.).

Do small businesses and non-profits have to pay the voter-approved minimum wage?

Yes. All employers (private, non-profit, and government) with qualifying employees will need to begin paying the new minimum wage on February 1, 2016, with the exception of federal government and tribal government entities. There are no exemptions based on the size of the business, the number of employees, or where the company's headquarters is located. 

Do tips or gratuities count as part of Tacoma minimum wage?

No. Just like under state law, tips do not count as wages. 

Does the law include allowing employers to pay a lower wage while employees are doing on-the-job training?

No. The Ordinance sets one minimum wage for all work performed within Tacoma.

Are there other responsibilities for employers under the voter-approved law?

Yes. Employers are required to provide notice of the City of Tacoma minimum wage requirement to their employees. The city has created a model notice to help employers meet this requirement. Employers are required to keep records documenting hours worked in the City of Tacoma and the wages paid for those hours, and employers certify that they are in compliance when applying for or renewing their business license.

Does the new minimum wage phase in?

Yes. The $12 per hour minimum wage is phased in over two years. The voter-approved Ballot Measure included the following schedule for increases:
  • $10.35 per hour on February 1, 2016 (the same effective date as the Paid Leave Ordinance passed in January 2015)

  • $11.15 per hour on January 1, 2017

  • $12 per hour on January 1, 2018

  • Adjusted annually by the rate of inflation beginning January 1, 2019

What do I do if I am being paid less than the minimum wage?

Information on how to report a violation of the Minimum Wage Ordinance can be found on the Employment Standards Enforcement web page. When a complaint is received, a company-wide investigation is opened to ensure that all employees are earning minimum wage and/or paid leave time. To learn more about confidentiality when reporting a violation, call us at (253) 591-5306. There are no fees for any employment standards services, and investigations do not include questions about workers' immigration status.

Retaliation is prohibited by Initiative Measure No. 1B.

It is a violation of the Initiative for an employer or any other person to interfere with, restrain, or deny the exercise of any right protected under the City’s Minimum Wage law.