Nov 4, 2015
Washington state details how to pay workers for rest periods

The Washington Department of Labor & Industries recently released guidance on how to pay workers for rest periods.

Wafla, a Washington state-based association that consults seasonal employers, requested the guidance after a July 16 state supreme court ruling established a new requirement for agricultural employers to pay piece-rate workers extra for rest periods.

The court-created requirement is that employers pay piece-rate agricultural workers a separate payment for rest breaks in addition to their piece rate earnings. This separate payment is based on the piece rate earnings or minimum wage, whichever is greater. And it must be calculated at minimum on a weekly basis. Employers may calculate the extra payment each day if that is easier for the employer, according to wafla.

The extra payment is based on the “regular rate of pay.” The regular rate of pay is the higher of minimum wage or the hourly equivalent calculated by dividing the piece-rate earnings by the active hours of work (excluding rest break time), according to wafla.

If you have any questions about how to calculate “regular rate of pay,” visit wafla’s guidance page at


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