Minimum wage, cannabis use, waiting period for guns: New laws going into effect in Washington in 2024

The nation's highest minimum wage, a waiting period for all gun purchases, testing for cannabis use at work—a host of new laws go into effect in Washington state starting Jan. 1. 

Paid Sick Leave & Minimum Wage Laws

As of Jan. 1, Washington State will have the highest minimum wage in the U.S. at $16.28 per hour, a 3.4% increase in wages compared to 2022. It is more than double the federal minimum wage, which still sits at $7.25.

This new minimum wage rate applies to workers 16 or older. Employees younger than 16 may earn $13.84 per hour.

The wage hikes will be even higher in certain cities—the City of Seattle will mandate employees be paid at least $19.97 per hour. In Tukwila, employees must earn at least $20.29 an hour.

Additionally, Washington's Paid Sick Leave Law nets employees one hour of paid sick leave every 40 hours worked. This law will now be expanded to cover construction workers, in an industry that frequently skirts the 90-day wait period for using accrued paid sick leave, as it is currently enshrined in state law.

Construction employers who have not reached 90 days of employment must pay unused sick leave not used by their workers.

Cannabis Testing, Workplace Impairment

Starting Jan. 1, most employers will not be able to test for cannabis use as a condition for hiring someone.

Companies can still test for impairment on the job. Certain safety-related jobs will still be subject to pre-employment screening.

Senate Bill 5123>>

Gun Law

A ten-day waiting period for purchasing any kind of gun will also begin in the new year.

Passing a safety-training program or showing proof of exemption will also go into effect.

Before, a waiting period was only required for purchasing semi-automatic weapons.

House Bill 1143>>

Voting Rights

Voting Rights Act 2.0 will also be on the books. The new law strengthens the ability of civil rights organizations and indigenous tribes to challenge irregularities in voting systems at the county level.

House Bill 1048>>