Minimum Wage

In order to support increased pay for Burien workers, the Burien City Council passed Ordinance No. 837 on March 18, 2024, establishing a citywide minimum wage in Burien. The new minimum wage will be among the highest in the nation and will increase annually based on a cost of living adjustment.

The City of Burien was one of a very few cities in Washington to pass a higher local minimum wage through Council action. The City then maintains local authority to make changes to the policy based on future needs and Council action.

The ordinance considers impacts to the local economy and supports our vital local small business community by defining three levels of employers and creating new minimum wage rates and effective dates by size of employer. Employers with 20 or fewer full-time equivalents (FTEs) are exempt from the ordinance.

  • “Level 1 employer” means all employers, including franchisees, that employ more than 500 FTEs in King County or franchisors who employ more than 500 FTEs in the aggregate. Effective January 1, 2025 at 12:01 a.m., Level 1 employers shall pay each employee an hourly minimum wage of at least $3.00 over the Washington State hourly minimum wage.
  • “Level 2 employer” means all employers, including franchisees, that employ 21 – 499 FTEs in King County. Effective July 1, 2025 at 12:01 a.m., Level 2 employers shall pay each employee an hourly minimum wage of at least $2.00 over the Washington State hourly minimum wage.
  • “Level 3 employer” means all employers with 20 or fewer FTEs. Employers with 20 or fewer FTEs are exempt from this ordinance.

Background

Prior to the passage of the ordinance, the City Council directed the Business and Economic Development Partnership (BEDP) to make a recommendation regarding implementing a Burien minimum wage. The BEDP studied the topic and, along with a facilitator, produced the "Minimum Wages and Burien Local Economy" report for the City Council to review. 

The City Council later directed staff to provide additional information on minimum wage ordinances in surrounding cities and to reach out to stakeholders on the issue. Staff worked with the BEDP to hold a roundtable discussion with business and labor representatives to hear perspectives on the topic and reported back to the City Council in October 2023. 

In early 2024, the City Council reviewed and discussed several drafts of the minimum wage ordinance language at several council meetings, and after considering feedback from business and labor, ultimately passed Ordinance No. 837 enacting a Burien minimum wage on March 18, 2024.

Violation and Enforcement of Minimum Wage Ordinance

The failure of any employer to comply with any requirement imposed on the employer under this ordinance is a violation subject to enforcement under BMC 5.15.240.

Before filing any private action for violations of this ordinance, an employee or an employee’s representative must give the employer written notice that the employee has not been paid or received the Burien minimum wage no later than forty-five calendar days before filing. This forty-five-day period is for the employer to investigate and cure, in full, any actual or agreed Burien minimum wage violation or wage theft. If an employer fails to cure a Burien minimum wage violation or a failure to pay wages or disagrees that a Burien wage violation or failure to pay wages occurred, the employee, the employee’s representative, may file a claim with the Washington State Department of Labor and industries related to the minimum wage violation or failure to pay wages. The statute of limitations shall be tolled during these forty-five days. An employee or employee’s representative must exhaust Washington State Labor and Industries administrative remedies before filing a private action in King County District Court.

Next Steps

The City will be producing additional supporting materials to assist businesses in complying with the Burien minimum wage and educate workers on their rights. This will include digital engagement to notify the community of the new minimum wage requirements in spring 2024 and additional compliance materials to be made available in Fall 2024.

Read Ordinance No. 837 online

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Updated May 3, 2024