Paid Sick Leave

As of Jan. 1, 2018, employers in Washington must provide nearly all of their employees with paid sick leave.

Initiative 1433, which was approved by Washington voters in fall 2016, contains 4 primary changes to state law:

  • Requires employers to provide paid sick leave to most employees beginning Jan. 1, 2018.
  • Increases the minimum wage over the next several years.
  • Ensuring tips and service charges are given to the appropriate staff and,
  • Protects employees from retaliation when exercising their rights under the Minimum Wage Requirements and Labor Standards Act.

Paid Sick Leave Requirements

Accrual

  • Under the law, employees must accrue paid sick leave at a minimum rate of 1 hour for every 40 hours worked. This includes part-time and seasonal workers.
  • Paid sick leave must be paid to employees at their normal hourly compensation.
  • Employees are entitled to use accrued paid sick leave beginning on the 90th calendar day after the start of their employment.
  • Unused paid sick leave of 40 hours or less must be carried over to the following year.
  • Employers are allowed to provide employees with more generous carry over and accrual policies.

Usage

Employees may use paid sick leave:

  • To care for their health needs or the health needs of their family members.
  • When the employees’ workplace or their child's school or place of care has been closed by a public official for any health-related reason.
  • For absences that qualify for leave under the state's Domestic Violence Leave Act.

Employers may allow employees to use paid sick leave for additional purposes.

Employee eligibility

Most employees are eligible to receive paid sick leave. However, some employees may not be required to receive paid sick leave because their job duties make them exempt from the Minimum Wage Act. Exemptions include doctors, lawyers, and dentists who are employed in their applicable professional fields. Additionally, most executive managers paid on a salary basis who supervise two or more full-time employees are exempt as well. For more information on exempt employees, please see Administrative Policy ES.A.1, Minimum Wage Act Applicability.

More worker rights coming in 2019-20

Starting in 2020, Washington will be the fifth state in the nation to offer paid family and medical leave benefits to workers. The program will be funded by premiums paid by both employees and many employers, and will be administered by the Employment Security Department (ESD). This insurance program will allow workers to take necessary time off when they welcome a new child into their family, are struck by a serious illness or injury, or need to take care of an ill or ailing relative. As directed by the Legislature, premium payments begin on Jan. 1, 2019 and benefits can be taken starting Jan. 1, 2020.

For more information, see Paid Family and Medical Leave (PFML) (www.esd.wa.gov).

 

For more information

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