New changes to the workplace for Washington workers, including minimum wage boost

Minimum wage workers in Washington got a 50-cent raise on the first day of the new year. (KATU Photo)

Washingtonians are ringing in the new year with a couple of changes in the workplace, including a pay raise. For full-time minimum wage workers that means roughly an extra thousand dollars in their pockets by the end of the year.

The goal? Making a livable income.

"I think that's great, with just the economy and just everything rising in the area," said Stephanie Santis Tevan of Vancouver.

To some, adding 50 cents to the $11 minimum wage still isn't enough.

"Realistically, if you're looking at how much it costs to live anymore, I don't think I could," said Sheri Cameron Mendez of Vancouver.

The changes are incremental, but the raise is enough to impact businesses. Lisa Caddy, the general manager of a restaurant in downtown Vancouver called Main Event, will have to make the tough calls this year.

"As a restaurant, it's hard. The margin's small. It affects the decision makers. Prices will have to go up. It's tough. It's really hard to make it," said Caddy. "It's going to be difficult making everything work without cutting hours and making it fair for my employees and making it fair for my owners."

Next year, the minimum wage will raise another 50 cents an hour, and over the next three years, the minimum wage will jump to $13.50, thanks to a 2016 ballot initiative.

And if you get sick, your employer will have to pay you for sick leave. For every 40 hours you work, you get one hour of paid sick leave, and the time you don't use can carry over into the next year. That also applies to part-time and seasonal workers.

"I think if our employees take care of themselves and have the opportunity, they'll take care of our guests better," said Caddy.

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