Seattle Has New Requirements Governing Sick and Safe Leave

Seattle’s new Sick and Safe Leave Ordinance becomes effective September 1, 2012. It establishes minimum standards for Seattle businesses in providing paid sick and safe leave to their employees.

We want to make you aware of these new requirements with this brief summary.

Starting September 1, 2012, Seattle businesses must provide a minimum amount of paid leave depending upon the “tier” assigned to their business based on its number of full time employees. Most of our business clients will be classified in “Tier One” because they have fewer than 50 full time employees. Tier One employers are required to provide a minimum of 40 hours per calendar year of paid sick and safe leave for all employees who have accrued this amount of paid leave.

How is the Sick and Safe Leave Accrued?

Paid leave will be accrued at the rate of at least one hour for every 40 hours worked for employees of a Tier One employer.

How is Sick Leave Defined?

In general, sick leave is for illness of an employee, employee’s family member (as defined by statute) or partner registered under the City of Seattle’s Registration of Domestic Partnership Ordinance. Specifically, paid sick leave is for “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, in¬jury, or health condition; or an employee’s need for preventive medical care.”

How is Safe Time Defined?

Seattle employers will need to provide paid safe time to employees:

(a) when the employee’s place of business has been closed by order of a public official to limit exposure to an infectious agent, biological toxin or hazardous material;

(b) to accommodate an employee’s need to care for a child whose school or place of care has been closed by order of a public official for such a reason; and

(c) for reasons related to the employee or the employee’s family member being subject to an incident of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking.

What Record Keeping and Notifications are Required?

Employers must retain records for a period of two years that reasonably indicate employee hours worked in Seattle, accrued paid sick/safe time, and used paid sick/safe time. Each time wages are paid, the employer shall provide each employee with a written update of the amount of paid time available for use as either sick time or safe time. Employers are allowed to choose a reasonable system for providing this notification, including listing remaining available paid time on each pay stub or developing an online system. Employers will also be required to notify employees in physical and/or electronic form about various aspects of the new law.

Please feel free to contact my office for more details about these requirements. We’re happy to help your business comply with Seattle’s Sick and Safe Leave Ordinance.

By Stacey Romberg
Attorney at Law

Phone: 206-784-5305


Revisions to Washington Law Governing Trusts

Substitute House Bill 1051 (“SHB 1051”) became effective this year, significantly impacting the administration of trusts, the duties of trustees, and the rights of trust beneficiaries. If your estate plan contains a testamentary trust, you should be aware of these new requirements. We wanted to let you know about a few key changes, primarily involving notification and reporting rules for trustees. SHB 1051 applies to all trusts, regardless of when the trust was created. The trusts written this year by our office contain language covering these new requirements. Our older trusts do not. However, regardless of whether the 2012 language is in your trust or not, when your trust goes into effect, your trustee will be required to follow the new law. Please rest assured that it’s doubtful that your estate plan will require any revisions solely to accommodate these changes. However, if you have any questions, please ask!

Initial Notice. SHB 1051 requires trustees to send out an initial notice concerning the trust. Please note that, if you have a testamentary trust in your Will, this notice does not need to be sent out until post-death, when your trust is then created and funded. Trustees now need to timely notify all persons interested in the trust of:

  • The existence of the trust;
  • The identity of the trustor(s);
  • The trustee’s name, address, and telephone number; and
  • The right to request information that would be reasonably necessary for a beneficiary to enforce his or her rights under the trust.

If a person entitled to notice is a minor, then notice must be given to the guardian or the minor’s parent if no guardian has been appointed by the court.

Reporting Requirements. SHB 1051 also requires trustees to keep all interested persons reasonably informed about the trust. Again, if you have a testamentary trust, this requirement only applies once your trust is created and funded. A trustee’s report should include:

  • A statement of receipts and disbursements of principal and income that have occurred during the accounting period;
  • A statement of assets and liabilities of the trust, including beginning and ending values for the accounting period;
  • The trustee’s compensation;
  • The agents hired by the trustee, their relationship to the trustee, if any, and their compensation;
  • Disclosure of any pledge, mortgage, option, or lease of trust property binding for a period of five years or more granted or entered into during the accounting period;
  • Disclosure of all transactions that could have been affected by a conflict of interest between the trustee’s fiduciary and personal interests;
  • A statement that the recipient of the notice may petition the court to obtain a review of the statement and acts of the trustee; and
  • A statement that claims against the trustee for breach of trust may not be made after the expiration of three years from the date the beneficiary receives the statement.

Requests for Information. SHB 1051 establishes new requirements for a trustee if either a beneficiary or a non-beneficiary requests information about the trust. The requirements govern both the timing and the content of the trustee’s response. If you are serving as a trustee and receive a request for information, please contact our office for guidance.

Notification When Trust Terminates. SHB 1051 states, upon termination of a trust, the trustee may, but is not required to, send a notice to the beneficiaries of a proposed plan to distribute existing trust assets. If the notice is sent, a beneficiary must then notify the trustee of any objection within thirty days after the proposed plan was sent, but only if the notice informed the beneficiary of the right to object and of the time allowed for the objection. I recommend sending this notice. It provides helpful information, and also may help protect the trustee from liability.

Trustee Must Act in Good Faith. SHB 1051 requires, even if the trust language gives the trustees “absolute,” “sole,” or “uncontrolled” discretion, the trustee must act “in good faith and in accordance with the terms and purposes of the trust and the interests of the beneficiaries.”

If you have any questions about these new requirements, and how they might impact any trust you presently have in place, please do not hesitate to contact my office.

Stacey L. Romberg, Attorney at Law


“Develop Your Game Plan: Building Meaningful Professional Relationships”

By Stacey L. Romberg

Jane Doe, Attorney at Law, attends her first networking event, a local Chamber of Commerce function. She knows no one. She wants to go home. Alternatively, she’s tempted to hide intermittently in the women’s restroom and the line to get cocktails until the speaker begins his presentation.

Eventually, after several trips through the cocktail line, Jane feels brave enough to venture out and meet some people. She walks up to another businesswoman, standing alone. “Hi, I’m Jane Doe. Here’s my card.”

Jane then bravely launches into her pre-rehearsed “elevator speech” describing her areas of practice, barely stopping for air to make sure she gets it right. The business woman smiles, says, “Thanks Jane, it was lovely to meet you,” and then slips back into the cocktail line to avoid further contact.

Ever felt like that? To avoid Jane’s dilemma, next time you attend a networking event, show up with a game plan:

1. Think about your clothes. Dress in a way that is appropriate for the event, shows respect and is consistent with your personal brand.

2. Think about your intent for the particular event, in advance. You need to know why you are showing up, beyond simply, “to get more clients.” Is there a specific person you’d like to meet? If there’s a presentation, would you like to learn something in particular? If there’s a structured networking time, what will you say about your business?

3. Attend events that genuinely interest you. If you hate baseball, don’t attend the Chamber’s tour of Safeco Field. People can tell whether you’re truly interested in something. Insincerity is not an effective networking strategy.

4. Remember that your goal is not to promote your business. It’s to develop relationships with others and to help them. Although these efforts require more time and energy, you’ll eventually create meaningful relationships, which will in turn add value to your business.

5. Introduce yourself clearly, making good eye contact. Smile, and offer up a firm handshake.

6. Wear your name tag on the right side, in a way that’s highly visible. When someone shakes hands with you, as you hold out your right hand, their eyes are naturally drawn to the right side. They are more likely to see your name and remember it.

7. Turn your cell phone to vibrate. Or, better yet, turn it off. If you are working while at the event, why not leave and go to work?

8. Talk less. Listen more.

9. Ask “what” questions, which tend to bring out a conversational response. “What type of work do you focus on?” “What brings you here today?” “What’s a good referral for you?”

10. Avoid handing your business card to someone unless: (a) they ask for it; or (b) you’ve made a substantial connection with them and you ask them if it’s okay. (“May I give you my card?”) Nothing turns people off more than someone racing around an event with the apparent goal of handing out as many cards as possible. People tend to discard those cards immediately after the event concludes.

11. Say, “Thank you,” if someone hands you their business card. Make a point to look at the card, and perhaps comment on it if sincere (“Beautiful logo” or “Oh, your office is right downtown?”). Make sure you put the card somewhere specific so that you can find it later.

12. Follow up with people you’ve met at the event in a polite, respectful way. If you invite them to connect on LinkedIn, personalize your invitation rather than using the “canned” LinkedIn invitation. (“Hello George. I enjoyed meeting you at the Chamber event last Thursday. I’d like to connect with you on LinkedIn, and look forward to seeing you at future events.”)

If you invite people for coffee or lunch, respect their schedules. Meet with them in a way that works best for them. Check to see if your new contact has a Twitter account. If so, follow them! It’s a nice compliment and shows your interest.

As a general rule, if you’ve only met someone once, do not send them a Facebook friend request. Many professionals consider Facebook to be a personal forum, so your request may be perceived as being too aggressive. Also, if you have a newsletter, only put your new contacts on your list if you receive their advance consent.

13. Enjoy yourself! And, if you find a group that you genuinely like, get involved. Join the board. Or find a job to do within the group. The more you connect on a meaningful level with that group, the greater your ability will be to form meaningful, long-lasting and mutually beneficial relationships.

Develop your game plan before every networking event you attend, have fun and watch your practice grow.

Stacey L. Romberg, Attorney at Law, practices in the areas of business law, estate planning and probate –

Reprinted from the King County Bar Bulletin – June 2012