Washington State’s paid sick leave rule went into effect on January 1st. All employers must review the new law and consider whether (and how) it applies to their own staff.
We will share several key points about the state’s new paid sick leave law.
Please keep in mind, while this general overview can help you understand what’s coming, it’s not a substitute for legal advice. Speak to a qualified Washington attorney if you have specific questions about your business’s responsibilities under the new law.
What you need to know about Washington paid sick leave:
The new law enacts four major changes to state law.
Initiative 1433 was passed by Washington voters in 2016, and it changes the state’s previous sick leave laws in four key ways:
- Requires employers to provide paid sick leave to most employees beginning January 1, 2018.
- Increases the minimum wage gradually over the next several years.
- Changes how tips and service charges are distributed to staff.
- Protects employees from retaliation when they exercise their rights under the Minimum Wage Requirements and Labor Standards Act.
The new law provides rules for sick leave accrual.
Under the new law, employees accrue paid sick leave at a rate of 1 hour for every 40 hours worked. Paid sick leave must be paid at the worker’s normal hourly wage, and workers may use it starting on the 90th day after their employment start date.
Employers are required to meet these minimum standards, but they can offer more generous paid sick leave policies if they wish.
The new law provides guidelines for employee usage of sick leave.
Under the new law, employees can use paid sick leave to care for their own health needs or those of family members. For example, whenever their job, school or daycare has been closed for a public health reason. Or for any absence that qualified under the state’s Domestic Violence Leave Act.
Employers are allowed to add reasons sick leave may be used to the above list. However, they may not subtract any items.
Nearly all employees are eligible.
Generally speaking, an employee is eligible for paid sick leave unless they’re exempt from the Minimum Wage Act. For instance, doctors, lawyers and dentists employed in their respective fields, as well as many executive managers, are exempt from the paid sick leave act, because they are exempt from the Minimum Wage Act.
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