Washington’s highest court has ruled that missed paid rest breaks count as “hours worked” that trigger overtime obligations for employers. According to the court, employers must add missed rest break time to their employees’ hours actually worked, and pay an overtime premium for any resulting hours over 40 in a workweek. Thus, an employee who works 40 hours in a workweek and misses a required 10-minute paid rest break is owed compensation at the overtime rate of one and one half times the regular rate for the missed 10-minute rest break.
Articles Discussing Washington State Wage & Hour Laws.
A Washington state appeals court has ruled that employees who miss state-mandated rest breaks during their regular 40-hour workweek assignments are not entitled to overtime compensation for the missed rest breaks. The Court held that the plaintiff-nurses were entitled only to straight-time compensation under the Washington Minimum Wage Act because they did not work in excess of 40 hours during the week they missed a rest break. The break periods were included in, and a part of, their 40-hour week. Washington State Nursesâ€™ Assn. v. Sacred Heart Med. Ctr., No. 29366-1-III (Wash. Ct. App. Aug. 25, 2011).
Washington’s minimum wage, currently the highest in the nation, will increase to $8.67 an hour effective January 1, 2011, an increase of 12 cents over the 2010 rate. The state minimum wage applies to agricultural and non-agricultural jobs in Washington, including tipped employees, as Washington’s minimum wage law does not recognize a tip credit.