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Washington's Mandatory Paid Sick Leave Begins January 1st

Beginning January 1, 2018, all Washington employers, no matter how big or small, are required to provide all employees, whether part-time, full-time, permanent, or temporary, with paid sick leave. The paid sick leave may be used for illness, injury, or preventative appointments for the employee or his/her family. It may also be used for absences as a result of domestic violence, sexual harassment, and stalking.

The paid sick leave accrues at the rate of one hour per every 40 hours actually worked and is paid at either minimum wage or the employee’s hourly rate, whichever is greater. Employees may begin using it on the 90th day of employment. At least monthly, employers must provide a statement of accrued, used, and available paid sick leave to each employee.

Paid Time Off (“PTO”) policies combining paid vacation and sick leave are permissible as long as they comply with the new law. If an employee has unused paid sick leave at the end of the year, the remaining unused leave, up to 40 hours, must be rolled over to the next year. Employers may roll over more than 40 hours if they so choose.

Employers must provide notice of the new law to current employees by March 1, 2018 and new hires must be provided the notice at the time of hire. L&I will be providing a notice template in December.

Employers should act quickly to ensure their employee handbooks comply with the new law. Employees should make sure they receive their notice by March 1, 2018 and that they receive their (at least) monthly statement showing paid sick leave accrual.

There are many nuances to the new law regarding notice of absence, verification of illness, policies, rate of pay determination, etc. If you have any questions after reading the statute or L&I’s publications regarding the new law, we are here to help. Give us a call at (425) 324-3586.