WA State threshold for OT exempt employees continues to rise in 2021

Last updated: October 30, 2020.

On October 1, 2020 the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries announced the new state minimum wage effective January 1, 2021: $13.69 per hour.

The Washington state overtime threshold for exempt jobs as of January 1, 2021 is set by state rule at 1.75 times the state minimum wage and will be $958.38 per week. Due to the monthly base pay model at the UW requiring a whole dollar amount, the UW’s thresholds are slightly higher than the state’s thresholds as shown in the table below:

L&I Salary Threshold Effective Jan 1, 2021

Weekly $958.38
Monthly $4,153
Annual $49,836

For calendar year 2020, the state rule provides that employees with a minimum salary of at least $675 per week and whose duties meet one or more of the “duties tests” are considered exempt from eligibility for overtime pay. In 2020 the federal overtime salary threshold of $684 per week is higher than the state threshold, so the UW has been obligated to follow the federal threshold.

For calendar year 2021, the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries will increase the minimum weekly salary threshold to $958.38 per week ($49,836‬ per year). This same threshold applies to part-time employees; it is not pro-rated for employees who are less than full-time. This means, for example, that a 50% (half-time) employee whose annualized salary is $90,000 would be overtime eligible because their actual, half-time salary would be $45,000, which is less than the new $49,836 threshold.

Employees whose primary duty is teaching, instructing, or lecturing to impart knowledge are not eligible for overtime and this change does not impact them. For information about any potential impacts on academic personnel, please email the Office of Academic Personnel at or call 206-221-UWAP (8927).

Employees with a combination of FTE and salary that falls below $958.38 per week will be converted to an overtime eligible job code no later than the last week of December. Starting Monday, December 28, 2020, they will need to track the hours that they work following the established time tracking procedure in their department. They will be paid for all hours worked, and time and a half (or compensatory time at time and a half) for all hours worked over 40 in a workweek.

If you have any questions regarding this change, please see the FAQ document or discuss them with your department’s HR administrator. For additional information, please see the HR website: FLSA and WMWA overtime eligibility and exemption.