Employee Resource Center for Paid Sick Leave

Employees

Paid sick leave accrual and availability

Paid sick leave usage

Notification requirements

Retaliation prohibited by law

Paid family and medical leave

 

Starting January 1, 2018, employees in Washington will begin accruing and receiving paid sick leave from their employer.

This new employee right is a result of Initiative 1433, which was approved by Washington voters in fall 2016. The initiative contained four primary changes to state law:

  • Requires employers to provide paid sick leave to most employees beginning January 1, 2018;
  • Increases the minimum wage over the next several years;
  • Ensures tips and service charges are given to the appropriate staff; and
  • Protects employees from retaliation when exercising their rights under the Minimum Wage Act.

 

Paid sick leave accrual and availability

  • Employees accrue at least one hour of paid sick leave for every 40 hours worked. Your employer may provide more generous leave, including a higher rate of paid sick leave accrual.
  • For employees already employed on or before January 1, 2018, paid sick leave will accrue for all hours worked beginning January 1, 2018. Employees hired after January 1, 2018, will begin accruing paid sick leave as soon as they begin working.
  • Beginning on the 90th calendar day after the start of employment, employers must make accrued paid sick leave available to employees for use in a manner consistent with the employer’s established payment interval or leave records management system, not to exceed one month after the date of accrual.
  • Accrued, unused paid sick leave balances of 40 hours or less must carry over to the following year.

 

Paid sick leave usage

Employees may use paid sick leave for the following reasons:

  • An absence resulting from an employee’s mental or physical illness, injury, or health condition; to accommodate the employee’s need for medical diagnosis, care or treatment of a mental or physical illness, injury, or health condition; or an employee’s need for preventive medical care;
  • To allow the employee to provide care for a family member with a mental or physical illness, injury, or health condition; care of a family member who needs medical diagnosis, care, or treatment of a mental or physical illness, injury, or health condition; or care for a family member who needs preventive medical care;
  • When the employee's place of business has been closed by order of a public official for any health-related reason, or when an employee's child's school or place of care has been closed for such a reason; and
  • For absences that qualify for leave under the state’s Domestic Violence Leave Act (DVLA). For more information, please see L&I’s overview of the DVLA. Your employers may allow you to use paid sick leave for additional purposes.

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  • Who is a covered “family member”?
  • A child, including a biological, adopted, or foster child, stepchild, or a child to whom the employee stands in loco parentis, is a legal guardian, or is a de facto parent, regardless of age or dependency status;
  • A biological, adoptive, de facto, or foster parent, stepparent, or legal guardian of an employee or the employee's spouse or registered domestic partner, or a person who stood in loco parentis when the employee was a minor child;
  • A spouse;
  • A registered domestic partner;
  • A grandparent;
  • A grandchild; or
  • A sibling.

 

Notification requirements

Employee Notification of Paid Sick Leave Rights

  • Employers must notify each employee of:
    • Their entitlement to paid sick leave;
    • The rate at which the employee will accrue paid sick leave;
    • The authorized purposes under which paid sick leave may be used; and
    • That retaliation by the employer for the employee's lawful use of paid sick leave and other rights provided under the Minimum Wage Act (chapter 49.46 RCW), and all applicable rules, is prohibited.
  • Employers must provide such notification in written or electronic form, and must make this information readily available to all employees. You can find a sample notification form here.

Not Less Than Monthly Notification

  • At least once a month, an employer must provide a notification to its employees which details:
  • The amount of paid sick leave accrued since notification was last made;
  • The amount of paid sick leave reductions since notification was last made; and
  • The total amount of unused paid sick leave available for use by the employee.
  • Employers may satisfy these notification requirements by providing this information in regular payroll statements.

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Retaliation prohibited by law

  • An employer may not adopt or enforce any policy that counts the use of paid sick leave for the purposes authorized under RCW 49.46.210(1)(b) and (c) as an absence that may lead to or result in discipline against an employee.
  • It is also unlawful for an employer to interfere with, restrain, or deny the exercise of any employee right provided under or in connection with the Minimum Wage Act (chapter 49.46 RCW). This means an employer may not use an employee's exercise of any of the rights provided under the Minimum Wage Act as a negative factor in any employment action such as evaluation, promotion, or termination, or otherwise subject an employee to discipline for the exercise of any rights provided under the Minimum Wage Act.

 

Paid family and medical leave

The Washington State Legislature passed the paid family and medical leave bill in the 2017 legislative session. This new law will be administered by the Washington State Employment Security Department.

Beginning in 2019, the program will be funded by premiums paid by employers and employees. In 2020, it will allow workers to apply for up to 12 weeks of paid leave for personal illness, pregnancy, or illness of family members.

For more information, see Paid Family and Medical Leave (PFML) (www.esd.wa.gov).

 

For more information

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