Washington Household Employment

Household employers need to comply with tax, wage, and labor laws that affect nannies, in-home senior caregivers, and other household employees. While federal laws cover employers in all states, there are also state- and city-specific regulations that employers must follow. Here’s what you need to know about Washington household employment.

Minimum Wage

Household employees must be paid at least the highest of the federal, state, or applicable local minimum wage rate. Washington’s minimum wage rate of $13.69 applies. The state’s minimum wage rate is adjusted annually to reflect changes in the cost of living. Washington allows employers to pay workers who are 14 or 15 years of age 85 percent of the state minimum wage rate. For 2021, the youth employment rate will be $11.64 per hour.

In Seattle, the rate is $16.69/hour or $15/hour if you contribute at least $2.25/hour toward an employee’s medical benefits.

Overtime

Household employees in Washington are required to be paid at least time and a half for hours worked over 40 hours in a seven-day workweek. Overtime compensation is not required for live-in employees, or for work performed on holidays.

State Unemployment Tax & Rate

In Washington, new employers will pay 115 percent of the average state unemployment (SUI) tax rate for all businesses in their respective industries, with the minimum rate being 1.00% as set by federal law. This applies to the first $56,500 of wages for each employee. Employers with previous employees may be subject to a different rate. This an employer-only tax.

Workers’ Compensation Insurance

Household employers in Washington are required to carry workers’ compensation coverage if two or more employees each work 40 or more hours per week, or if an employee is providing nursing care. Workers’ compensation can be purchased through the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries.

Helpful Links

Washington Department of Labor and Industries

Washington Department of Revenue

Federal Regulations

All household employers need to follow certain federal regulations including:

Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) Classification Guidelines

  • Household workers are considered employees and not independent contractors. Learn more about misclassifying employees as independent contractors.
  • Household workers are also non-exempt employees, which means they receive overtime pay of at least time-and-a-half for hours worked over 40 per workweek. Learn more about overtime pay.

FICA Taxes

Social Security and Medicare taxes are commonly referred to as FICA taxes. If you pay cash wages of $2,300 or more to any household employee in a calendar year, then you need to withhold and pay FICA taxes. FICA taxes are 15.3 percent of cash wages. As an employer, you pay 7.65 percent (6.2 percent for Social Security and 1.45 percent for Medicare). Your employee's share is also 7.65 percent, which you can withhold from their wages or choose to pay it yourself. You don't withhold or owe FICA taxes on wages you pay to your spouse, child under the age of 21, parent, or any employee under the age of 18 at any time during the calendar year.

Federal Unemployment Tax (FUTA)

If you pay a household employee total cash wages of $1,000 or more in any calendar quarter, you'll owe federal unemployment tax. This is an employer-only tax. FUTA is six percent of cash wages on the first $7,000 you pay an employee.

Mileage Reimbursement

If your employee uses their own car in the course of their work, you can reimburse them for mileage. For 2021, the IRS has set the optional standard mileage rate at 56 cents per mile driven. Paying mileage is not mandatory or you can reimburse your employee at a different rate. However, if the cost of mileage causes your employee to fall below minimum wage, then you need to reimburse them for mileage.

GTM Can Help with Washington Household Employment

Call (800) 929-9213 for a free, no-obligation consultation with a household employment expert. We’ll answer all your questions and show you how to comply with wage, tax, and labor laws as a household employer. Or, if you’re ready to have GTM Payroll Services handle it all for you, get started with our nanny payroll and tax service.

Download The Complete Guide to Household Payroll

Get our complimentary guide and learn everything you need to know about paying your employees legally and filing your taxes the right way.

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