In a vote of 9 to 0, the Seattle City Council has just approved new minimum wage requirements for employers with employees working in Seattle. For some employers, this means the minimum wage could increase to $15 per hour as soon as January 1, 2017. Seattle Mayor Ed Murray is expected to sign the ordinance when it reaches his desk.

The newly-approved ordinance divides employers into two categories: those with more than 500 employees and those with fewer, subject to specific rules for counting employees. The timing of the wage increases and the rules as to whether employers can count other forms of compensation toward the minimum wage (for example, tips and employer-paid medical benefits) vary substantially between the two categories of employers. Although the first required increases in the minimum wage are not scheduled to go into effect until April 15, 2015, employers should immediately begin to consider how these changes will affect their policies and operations.