Holiday, Vacation or Bereavement Leave

More worker rights coming in 2019-20

Starting in 2020, Washington will be the fifth state in the nation to offer paid family and medical leave benefits to workers. The program will be funded by premiums paid by both employees and many employers, and will be administered by the Employment Security Department (ESD). This insurance program will allow workers to take necessary time off when they welcome a new child into their family, are struck by a serious illness or injury, or need to take care of an ill or ailing relative. As directed by the Legislature, premium payments begin on Jan. 1, 2019 and benefits can be taken starting Jan. 1, 2020.

For more information, see Paid Family and Medical Leave (PFML) (


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  • Expand/collapse Does an employer have to give workers paid holiday, vacation or bereavement leave?

    An employer is not required to give workers paid holiday, vacation or bereavement leave.

    Paid leave for holidays, vacation or bereavement following the death of a close family member are considered "benefits" that may be paid by the business under a policy, written agreement, personal contract, oral agreement, collective bargaining agreement or other form of agreement. There are no state laws requiring that such benefits be given.

    If the business agrees to give these benefits and then does not do so, workers may sue the business in a private legal suit in small claims court or through a private attorney. L&I does not enforce these agreements.

    Some municipalities (like the cities of Seattle and SeaTac) have passed local ordinances that require businesses to provide for certain types of sick and safe leave. It is suggested that you check with your local ordinances to ensure compliance with local laws.

    Notice: As of January 1, 2018, Paid Sick Leave for most employees is a requirement as a result of Initiative 1433.
    Read more information regarding the new paid sick leave requirements.

  • Expand/collapse Does an employer have to pay time-and-a-half for working on a holiday?

    An employer is not required to pay time-and-a-half for working on a holiday.

    Overtime or premium pay is not required for working on holidays or weekends unless those hours are in excess of 40 for the work week. Holiday pay is a benefit that may be paid at the employers' discretion. Overtime is based on actual hours worked. Even though the total hours (work hours plus holiday, vacation, or sick pay) for the week might exceed 40, overtime pay is not required unless a worker actually worked more than 40 hours in that work week.

  • Expand/collapse When can a worker take time off for a serious illness?

The federal Family Medical and Leave Act (FMLA) permits workers to take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave. To qualify, the worker must have worked at least 12 months for the employer for a total of at least 1,250 hours and the employer must have 50 or more employees.

This unpaid leave can be used to:

  • Care for a newborn, newly adopted or foster child,
  • Recover from the employee's own serious illness, or
  • Care for a child, spouse, or parent with a serious health condition.

An employer may deny an employee the use of their paid sick leave while caring for a sick family member under this law.

For more information:

Federal FMLA — Call the U.S. Department of Labor at 1-866-487-9243 or see the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993 fact sheet (234 KB PDF) (

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