Skip to Content

2017 Seattle Minimum Wage Increase: Are You Prepared?

With the City of Seattle’s minimum wage increasing again on January 1st, it is appropriate to review your organization’s compensation to make sure the wages still meet the minimum standard. While the law has been in effect since April 1 of 2015, the minimum is increasing again on January 1 of 2017 to $15 per hour for employers with more than 500 employees, and $13 for employers with 500 or fewer employees.

There are a series of issues to analyze when determining what the required minimum wage is for a particular organization, specifically:

What constitutes a Seattle Employee?
Answer: Anyone working more than two or more hours every two weeks. Once this requirement is met, they must be paid a wage in compliance with the law.
Is the employer a large employer (501 or more employees) or
a small employer (500 or fewer employees)?
Answer: Full and part time employees count as whole employees, the total of which is averaged over each calendar week of the previous calendar year.
Do employees receive tips?
Answer: Tip income can be counted in determining employee’s income.
Are the employees in question offered “silver level” benefits?
Answer: If so, and they take them, that cost can be applied to offset the minimum wage requirement.

There are of course more complicated answers for situations that are less common. For example, determining whether a plan meets the silver level requirement can be challenging for large (greater than 50 employees) health plans whose carrier or TPA does not provide an actuarial analysis of the plan. For these purposes, the City of Seattle will defer to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and accept the results of the tool CMS uses to determine actuarial value of a plan.

The City of Seattle has a helpful website  that can be used to determine Large Employer status, review the increases over time, and calculate wages:

The CMS Actuarial Value Calculator is available here:

Of course, a human resources or compensation consultant can assist with any of this analysis. For more information, contact your Parker, Smith & Feek account team today.

The views and opinions expressed within are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Parker, Smith & Feek. While every effort has been taken in compiling this information to ensure that its contents are totally accurate, neither the publisher nor the author can accept liability for any inaccuracies or changed circumstances of any information herein or for the consequences of any reliance placed upon it.

Return to Blog index