New Minimum Wage and Paid Sick Leave Requirements in WA State

State Wide Sick Leave ... Are you Ready?

              In November 2016, Washington voters approved I-1433, which provided a statewide increase to the minimum wage ($11.50 as of January 1, 2018) and statewide implementation of paid sick leave. The paid sick leave becomes effective January 1, 2018. In October 2017, the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries finalized the regulations implementing I-1433. It’s time to make sure you’re ready for these changes. The following are some of the key aspects of the new regulations that pertain to sick leave that employers need to be aware of.

              ACCRUAL: Employees accrue one hour of paid sick leave for every 40 hours worked beginning January 1, 2018. All non-exempt employees accrue sick leave, including part-time and seasonal employees. This is a significant difference from Seattle’s Paid Sick/Safe Time Ordinance.

              RATE OF PAY: The accrued paid sick leave is paid at the same rate as the employee’s normal wage, excluding lost tips, gratuities or service charges. If employees are paid on a commission or piece-rate basis, they are entitled to a wage that represents a reasonable calculation of the wages that would have been earned had they not been sick.

              USE: Employees can begin using accrued paid sick leave 90 days after January 1, 2018, or 90 days after hiring if hired after January 1, 2018. An employer may allow earlier use. The employer must allow the employee to use the accrued paid sick leave in increments of one hour. However, if an employer tracks time for compensation purposes in increments of less than one hour, the employee may use the accrued sick leave in the same increments.

              NOTICE: An employer may require reasonable notice before an employee uses accrued paid sick leave. This should be required through a written policy. Notice cannot be required more than 14 calendar days in advance. If the need for sick leave is unforeseeable, the employee must provide notice as soon as possible before the beginning of the shift.

              CARRYOVER: At the end of the year, an employee can carryover up to 40 hours of unused, accrued paid sick leave. An employer may choose to implement a policy that allows employees to carry over additional hours. An employer may not limit an employee’s use of accrued paid sick leave. Verification may only be required for absences lasting longer than three days and must be pursuant to a written policy. The verification policy may not require disclosure of the nature of the condition underlying the use of the sick leave.

              PAYOUT/REINSTATEMENT: Upon termination or separation, an employer may choose to pay the departing employee for any accrued, unused sick leave upon mutually agreeable terms. If the accrued leave is not paid out at termination or separation and the employee is rehired within 12 months, any accrued, unused sick leave must be reinstated. If the employee has not met the requisite 90 day waiting period, the previous employment period counts toward meeting the requirement.

              Now is the time to update your employee handbooks to comply with the new regulations. Compliance with Seattle’s ordinance does not ensure compliance with the new state regulations. The attorneys at Holmquist + Gardiner can help to ensure your compliance. If your company does not currently provide paid sick leave, our attorneys can help you implement these new regulations. If you have any questions or concerns about these new regulations, feel free to reach out to the attorneys at Holmquist & Gardiner, PLLC.


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