Employer Resource Center

Washington state law requires employers to provide paid sick leave to their employees. Employers should consider creating a written paid sick leave policy to set expectations for their workplace and to communicate the law’s requirements to their employees. All paid sick leave policies, written or not, must meet or exceed the requirements of the law.

Do I need a written paid sick leave policy?

If you are implementing a basic paid sick leave policy, you may not need a written policy. However, you must have a written paid sick leave policy if your business does any of the following:

  • Uses a different paid sick leave accrual year (e.g., fiscal year, benefit year, etc.) other than the calendar year (Jan. 1 – Dec. 31).
  • Requires employees to provide reasonable notice when using their paid sick leave.
  • Requires verification for absences lasting longer than three days.
  • Provides employees access to paid sick leave before it has accrued (i.e., frontloading).
  • Uses a paid time off (PTO) program.
  • Offers a shared leave program for employees.

Note: A collective bargaining agreement can satisfy the written policy requirement.

Even if your business does not have any of the above policies, we highly encourage you to adopt a written paid sick leave policy. Having a written policy can protect your business and help your employees understand their rights.

If you have a written policy, it must be readily available to all employees.

Local laws with more favorable requirements

Some cities, including Seattle, Tacoma, and the City of SeaTac, may have more generous paid sick leave ordinances. In these cases, you must apply the paid sick leave requirements that are more favorable to employees.

Note: The paid sick leave ordinance for the City of Spokane ended Dec. 31, 2017. For more information, please see their Earned Sick and Safe Leave rules.

Notification Requirements

You must provide a one-time written or electronic notification to each of your employees detailing their paid sick leave rights. This information must be readily available to all employees, and provided to them no later than their first day of employment. We have created a sample employee paid sick leave notification form that covers all requirements to help you get started.

Your employee paid sick leave notification must include:

  • a statement guaranteeing the paid sick leave rights of your employees,
  • the rate your employee will accrue paid sick leave,
  • the purposes for which paid sick leave may be used, and
  • a statement that retaliation by employers against an employee for their lawful use of paid sick leave, and for exercising other Minimum Wage Act rights, is prohibited.

Sample notification forms

Sample paid sick leave policies

For your convenience, we have drafted some sample policies and forms you can use to help your business meet the new state requirements.

Basic paid sick leave policy

This basic policy covers the major elements of the law. It is designed so you can include the optional policies below.

Note: These policies are intended as guidance, and do not outline all the minimum paid sick leave requirements of the paid sick leave law.

Optional paid sick leave policies

Reasonable notice policy

Use this policy if you require employees to provide reasonable notice when using their paid sick leave.

Verification policy

Use this policy if you require employees to provide verification when their use of paid sick leave exceeds three consecutive required days of work.

Frontloading policy

Use this policy if you want to frontload an employee’s paid sick leave balance before it would otherwise accrue.

Shared leave policy

Use this policy if you want to give your employees the ability to share their paid sick leave with their co-workers.