Seattle's Paid Sick and Safety Time Requirements

Starting on September 1, 2012, employees of businesses operating in Seattle began accruing paid sick and paid safe time (PSST), defined as the “same hourly wage that the employee would have earned during the time PSST was taken.”  The new requirements apply to employers with more than four (4) full-time equivalent employees and cover all full and part-time employees, as well as temporary and occasional employees who work more than 240 hours in a calendar year.  Employers must also be aware that these regulations extend to employees who telecommute in Seattle as well as those who stop in Seattle for any purposes related to their employment. Employees working in business employing up to 249 employees accrue 1 hour of PSST for every 40 hours worked; in businesses with 250 or more employees, an hour of PSST is accrued for every 30 hours worked.

In addition to time off to address their own health conditions, employees are entitled to use their accrued time to care for family members with health conditions, as well as “for reasons related to domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking.”  Relatedly, employees can take up to three (3) consecutive days of PSST without providing any documentation to the employer.  The benefit will continue to accrue even if the business is closed by order.

Employees cannot waive their PSST rights except by collective bargaining agreements.  But, the ordinance has a built-in two-year exemption for new small and medium-sized employers (up to 249 employees) beginning on the date the first employee is hired.  However, it is critical to understand that there are rather onerous record-keeping and notice requirements imposed upon employers.

If you have any questions about this new law and how it may impact your business, please feel free to contact a Holmquist & Gardiner PLLC attorney.