Your 5 basic rights at work — and how to make them reality
Here are the basic rights at work every worker in Washington should know about:
1) Minimum wage
We've raised the minimum wage in Washington state to $11.50/hour, effective January 1, 2018. The minimum wage in Seattle is higher, up to $15.45 if you work for a large company or chain that doesn't provide health care benefits. Higher minimum rates also apply in Tacoma and for some jobs in SeaTac. Check out whatsmywage.org to find out which minimum wage rate applies to you — and what you can do about it.
Hourly workers in Washington state are entitled to a 10-minute paid rest break for every 4 hours of work, plus a 30-minute unpaid meal break for any shift over 5 hours. You must also be paid overtime at time-and-a-half if you work more than 40 hours in a week.
Workers in Washington state accrue at least 1 hour of paid sick time for every 40 hours of work. You can use your earned sick time if you're sick, for a medical appointment, to care for a family member, or for leave related to domestic violence.
Workers have a right to workplace free of sexual harassment, and free of discrimination on the basic of race, color, creed, gender, national origin, age, family status, sexual orientation, disability or appearance of disability, veteran status, or other protected class.
5) Safe & healthy workplace
Employers in Washington State are required to provide a safe and healthy workplace, free from recognized hazards which are likely to cause serious injury.
How those rights become realities
So those are the laws — but the law doesn't cover everything that comes up at work. And we all know there can be a gap between rights and realities. That's where the two most important rights & protections come into play:
- You have the right to organize with your co-workers to improve your working conditions.
- Your employer cannot retaliate against you because you stand up for your rights and when you organize.
And that's why thousands of workers across the state have come together to organize with Working Washington. We're the place where workers come together to win new rights — and stand up for the rights they already have.
Got a issue with your rights at work? Let us know about it and we'll help you turn your rights into realities.
Note: People who work for large food, coffee, and retail companies or chains in Seattle have won an additional key right: the right to a secure schedule.