Business Law

Seattle Has New Requirements Governing Sick and Safe Leave

By August 23, 2012 No Comments

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


This post is for informational purposes and does not contain or convey legal advice. The information herein should not be used or relied upon in regard to any particular facts or circumstances without first consulting with an attorney.

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