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Washington State Paid Sick Leave Updates for 2024

Posted on December 18, 2023 by James Blankenship

Paid sick and other leave benefits are changing in 2024.

Construction workers, other than workers solely working in residential building construction, who do not reach the minimum 90 days of employment with a particular employer to be eligible to use paid sick leave will now be paid their accrued, but unused sick leave benefits following job separation.  This amendment was made to address construction workers who frequently change employers based on work availability and were never able to use this benefit.  The exclusion of construction workers covered by a collective bargaining agreement still requires that accrued and unused sick leave benefits be paid according to the new statute.  Employers with covered construction workers must track the sick leave paid out to a construction worker following job separation, the first day or employment, and the separation date.

Washington Labor and Industries also made a number of changes to the Paid Time Off (“PTO”) program regulations that impact all employers.  Any employer with a combined PTO program will have new regulations regarding its administration beginning January 1, 2024.  Under the new regulations, the employee must be informed that the PTO program is intended to meet the paid sick leave requirements.  While most programs likely already make clear that it is a combined paid sick leave and vacation plan., he biggest administrative impact is likely to be the requirement that employers separately track the paid sick leave from the “more generous leave” i.e. vacation leave.  Additionally, the employer cannot require an employee to use paid sick leave before using more generous leave and cannot encourage employees to use the paid sick leave for a more generous purpose (vacation) before accessing the more generous leave.  Employers should review PTO policies now to ensure compliance with the new regulation and put systems in place to track sick leave separately from other PTO leave even in a combined program.

Seattle has expanded the reach of is app-based worker paid sick and safe time ordinance to cover all network companies, not just food delivery, with at least 250 workers.  In May 2023, Seattle adopted paid sick and safe time for food delivery app-based workers.  Importantly, these workers are not employees under Seattle’s regulatory scheme.  Additionally, the new ordinance will apply even when the amount of contact with Seattle is very small.  The worker accrues one day of leave for every 30 days with at least one work related stop in Seattle and the worker only has to make one stop every 90 days to keep accrued time available.  Network companies will pay the worker their average daily compensation rate for each day of paid sick and safe time.  The average daily compensation rate is based on the compensation owed for each day worked in the prior 12 months, both inside and outside of Seattle.

Finally, Washington’s Paid Family and Medical Leave program will see a few small adjustments for workers beginning in January 2024.  The premium rate will go down to .74 percent from .8 percent in 2023 and the cap for benefits will increase to $1,456.00 per week.

If you have questions about this, or any of the upcoming employment law updates, please consider reaching out to the Labor and Employment Law team here at Lasher, we’re here to help.