If you work as a server in Washington state or would like to get into the industry, then you should be aware of what the minimum wage is for servers in Washington to ensure you are being paid the correct amount or whether this is a job you would like to do.
The Washington server minimum wage rate in 2023 is $15.74 per hour.
The laws surrounding the Washington minimum wage for servers act as a safety net for those that may not earn enough in tips to meet the minimum wage threshold in the state.
Servers are the lifeblood of the hospitality industry, and they serve their customers with food and beverages in a restaurant or similar type of business where food and drinks are delivered to the table.
As part of providing this service, a server will typically receive tips (gratuities) for doing so.
Washington servers usually rely less on their low hourly tipped minimum wage and more on the generosity of the guests they serve for their paycheck each week.
What is the Server Minimum Wage in Washington for 2023
What is the actual minimum wage for a server in Washington? The minimum cash wage for servers in Washington is $15.74 per hour, which is the same as the tipped minimum wage in Washington.
This is the minimum per hour that a Washington server must be paid and that a Washington employer must pay its servers.
As you can see from the following graphic, the minimum wage for servers in Washington has increased steadily and incrementally over the past several years.
Washington Minimum Cash Wage and Tip Credits
Tip credit is usually put in place to supplement servers, and similar tipped workers who are being paid hourly tipped cash wage lower than the official state minimum wage so that after your hourly tipped wage along with tip credits, you would be paid either the same as the minimum wage for that state.
In Washington’s case, there is no tip credit, nor is there a tipped cash wage, meaning that tipped employees, including servers, are paid the exact same as the regular minimum wage in Washington that applies to all types of employees that work in the state.
Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and Tipped Employees
The Federal Fair Labor Standards Act, also known as the FLSA, is a federal law from the U.S. Department of Labor.
This law establishes a national minimum wage, defines classifications for employees, and covers other essential standards and requirements for employers.
Federal law requires that employers make tipped employees aware of the cash wage paid (currently, the national direct hourly salary is $2.13 per hour), let them know about the tip credit, and explain any tip pooling systems at the workplace.
Because Washington’s minimum wage rate is higher than the federal minimum wage rate, the state laws supersede the federal regulations.
Washington Server Minimum Wage History
The table below showcases the current rate and history of the Washington server minimum wage over the past 15+ years since 2008.
You can see when there were increases in the server minimum wage, which includes not only the tipped minimum wage rates but the tipped credit rates too.
|State||Tipped Server Wage||Tip Credit||Total|
|Washington server minimum wage 2023||$15.74||$0||$15.74|
|Washington server minimum wage 2022||$14.49||$0||$14.49|
|Washington server minimum wage 2021||$13.69||$0||$13.69|
|Washington server minimum wage 2020||$13.50||$0||$13.50|
|Washington server minimum wage 2019||$12.00||$0||$12.00|
|Washington server minimum wage 2018||$11.50||$0||$11.50|
|Washington server minimum wage 2017||$11.00||$0||$11.00|
|Washington server minimum wage 2016||$9.47||$0||$9.47|
|Washington server minimum wage 2015||$9.47||$0||$9.47|
|Washington server minimum wage 2014||$9.32||$0||$9.32|
|Washington server minimum wage 2013||$9.19||$0||$9.19|
|Washington server minimum wage 2012||$9.04||$0||$9.04|
|Washington server minimum wage 2011||$8.67||$0||$8.67|
|Washington server minimum wage 2010||$8.55||$0||$8.55|
|Washington server minimum wage 2009||$8.55||$0||$8.55|
|Washington server minimum wage 2008||$8.07||$0||$8.07|
Average Server Salary in Washington (2023)
If you are a server or are looking to work as a server in a restaurant or similar service-related business in Washington, knowing the hourly wage for servers is important, but knowing what you can expect to earn is even more important.
Some Washington servers will not be satisfied with just earning $15.74 per hour, because based on working 35-40 hours a week, they would earn around $550-$629 per week, and they might very well want to earn more to support themselves and their family.
How much do servers make in Washington?
The average server hourly wage in Washington (according to the job website Indeed.com) is $16.00 per hour. So, if you were to work an 8-hour shift or a total of 8 hours in a day across two shifts, you could earn (on average) about $128 (8 hrs x $16.00).
If you worked five days per week, then you could earn about $640 per week!
If you took just two weeks off a year and worked for 50 weeks, you could earn $32,000. If you decided to take 3 weeks off per year, then you could earn 49 x $640 = $31,360,440 for the year. This is, of course, before Washington state income tax has been deducted.
The above calculations are just averages to give you an idea of what you can earn as a Washington server.
The most important aspects of how much you can earn will depend on how good you are at your job and what type of food/beverage establishment you work at, and how busy it is year-round.
Also, many people that work at restaurants or similar establishments are willing to work more than 40 hours per week, so they might qualify for overtime pay.
If the average food item on the menu is $14-$18 and the restaurant mainly serves wings, burgers, quesadillas, nachos, fries, and similar snack-style food, then the average check for the table you serve will be much less, and therefore, the percentage tip against the total check will result in you earning less per table you serve, and you’ll have to serve many tables during your shift.
On the other hand, if you work at a finer dining restaurant or one that is really busy and serves steak, seafood, and other higher-priced menu and beverage items and each guest is spending $50-$80 or so, then you stand to earn more money as the total check for each table you serve will be that much higher and the percentage tip you receive on a higher check will result in higher tips.
As a Washington state employer, it is your responsibility to pay your servers the minimum hourly rate or surpass the Washington minimum wage in the event that your servers do not earn enough to meet the $15.74 per hour threshold.
Failing to do so will be breaking federal and state laws. Equally, it is important that as a server working in Washington, you know your rights and how much you should be paid with your hourly wage.
If you have specific questions about the laws surrounding the minimum wage for servers (tipped employees) from both an employer and employee perspective, you can contact the Washington Department of Labor and Industries.
Additionally, if you are an employee who isn’t being paid what you legally should be, you can file a complaint with them too.
There are many exemptions to the WA minimum wage, and for servers in Washington too. Some cities within the state have different minimum wage rates, such as the Seattle minimum wage.