Complying with the New Statewide Paid Sick Leave Requirements Imposed by Initiative 1433

Posted on May 25, 2017 by Lasher Holzapfel Sperry & Ebberson

In November 2016, Washington voters approved statewide paid sick leave requirements as part of Initiative 1433. Beginning on January 1, 2018, employers throughout the state will be required to provide their employees with paid sick leave, so now is the perfect time for your business to start its compliance planning. While the Department of Labor & Industries is still developing detailed rules and procedures regarding employee notifications and reporting requirements, we already know most of what the new law will require:

Paid sick leave accrual and carryover requirements

  • Employees must accrue a minimum of one hour of paid sick leave for every 40 hours worked. For the average full-time employee that amounts to 1 hour per week or roughly 50 hours per year.
  • Up to 40 hours of unused sick leave must be carried over to the following year.

It is important to note that the figures above are minimum requirements—employers are free to provide their employees with more generous paid sick leave accrual and carryover policies.

When employees can use paid sick leave

  • Employees may use their accrued paid sick leave beginning 90 calendar days after the start of employment.
  • Employees may take paid sick leave when they are sick, but they may also use paid sick leave to care for a family member, or to seek preventative care for themselves or a family member.
  • Employees are permitted to take paid sick leave when their place of work or their child’s school or daycare has been closed by order of a public official for any health-related reason.
  • An employee may also use paid sick leave for any absence that qualifies for leave under the Domestic Violence Leave Act (RCW 49.76).

Again, as with the accrual and carryover policies discussed above, employers are free to permit their employees to use paid sick leave for additional purposes.

The Department of Labor & Industries will be releasing more detailed rules and procedures for paid sick leave later this year. In the meantime, Washington employers should review their sick leave, vacation, and paid time off (PTO) policies to determine whether or not they will need to make changes before the new paid sick leave law takes effect on January 1, 2018. Starting that process now will ensure that your business has ample time to revise its budget and to modify its recordkeeping practices and payroll reporting policies to conform with the new law.

If you have questions about complying with Washington’s new paid sick leave policy, the employment attorneys at Lasher Holzapfel Sperry & Ebberson would be happy to assist you.