Seattle’s new paid sick leave ordinance takes effect September 1, and nearly all firms with at least five employees will be affected. Firms headquartered outside Seattle will also be affected if they have employees who perform at least 240 hours of work in the city within a calendar year.
During the recent contract negotiations, AGC and the Carpenters, Laborers, Operating Engineers, Cement Masons and Teamsters Unions agreed to waive coverage under the ordinance in all of the tentative agreements. The ordinance passed by the Seattle City Council said that a specific waiver must be included in collective bargaining agreements for those workers to be exempt from the ordinance.
Unfortunately, the Council and Mayor ignored a major business element in the city — open shop contractors. They are bound by the ordinance, which is very difficult to comply with. Non-union contractors should become familiar with the new rules. The latest rules implementing the ordinance can be found here. This version was released in May and includes improvements the City made in response to concerns raised by AGC and other groups:
- Cash outs and bonus payments are not prohibited (Rule deleted).
- Employers are not required to apply overtime rates to hourly wages (substantive change).
- Assistance for determining rate of pay for shifts of indeterminate length and on-call shifts (new Rules).
- Clarification that “reasonable action” (discipline) is permitted for clear instance or pattern of abuse of paid sick/safe time.
- Clarification that employers are required to reinstate paid sick/safe time after an employee returns from a break in service.
- Requirement that employers with a combined or universal leave policy, such as a Personal Time Off (PTO) policy, may require employees to comply with the notice provisions of the Ordinance.
- Major reformatting of the Rules in the “Accrual” section for better referencing (easier use).
- Minor reformatting of the Rules in the “Use” section for better referencing (easier use).
A newer version, to reflect a comment period that closed June 13, is expected soon and it will be posted on the same webpage linked above.