Paid Sick Leave

As of Jan. 1, 2018, employers in Washington must provide nearly all of their employees with paid sick leave.

Initiative 1433, which was approved by Washington voters in fall 2016, contains 4 primary changes to state law:

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

Paid Sick Leave Requirements


  • Under the law, employees must accrue paid sick leave at a minimum rate of 1 hour for every 40 hours worked. This includes part-time and seasonal workers.
  • Paid sick leave must be paid to employees at their normal hourly compensation.
  • Employees are entitled to use accrued paid sick leave beginning on the 90th calendar day after the start of their employment.
  • Unused paid sick leave of 40 hours or less must be carried over to the following year.
  • Employers are allowed to provide employees with more generous carry over and accrual policies.


Employees may use paid sick leave:

  • To care for their health needs or the health needs of their family members.
  • When the employees’ workplace or their child's school or place of care has been closed by a public official for any health-related reason.
  • For absences that qualify for leave under the state's Domestic Violence Leave Act.

Employers may allow employees to use paid sick leave for additional purposes.

Employee eligibility

Most employees are eligible to receive paid sick leave. However, some employees may not be required to receive paid sick leave because their job duties make them exempt from the Minimum Wage Act. Exemptions include doctors, lawyers, and dentists who are employed in their applicable professional fields. Additionally, most executive managers paid on a salary basis who supervise two or more full-time employees are exempt as well. For more information on exempt employees, please see Administrative Policy ES.A.1, Minimum Wage Act Applicability.

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) (


For more information

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