Washington Releases Final Rules for Sick Leave Law

Washington Paid Sick Leave Final Rules
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Employers Must be Prepared for New Sick Leave Law by January

The Washington State Sick Leave laws go into effect in January. Contained within the law is an increase in the state’s minimum wage. The Labor and Industries Department states that 1433 businesses will be affected by the new law.

The estimated costs for the new law are between 12-31 million dollars and most of that cost will be born by small businesses. The State of Washington just released the final rules. It is currently holding hearings around the rules enforcing the law. The law takes effect in less than 60 days.

Employers have until November 17, 2017, to submit input on the current revision of the final rules. This article covers the final rules of the law and some overview of the Washington Sick Leave Law.

Minimum Wage Increases

The Washington State Minimum Wage increases on January 1, 2018, and will increase every year annually. Currently, the minimum wage is $11 an hour.

On January 1, 2018, it will increase to $11.50 an hour. In 2019, it will increase to $12 an hour and in 2020, to $13.50 an hour. Every year afterward minimum rate will adjust according to the rate of inflation. Minimum wage applies to all workers 16 and older. Seattle, Tacoma, and the City of SeaTac all have higher local minimum wages. Employees in those areas must be paid the local wage.

  • 2017 – $11.00 per hour
  • 2018 – $11.50 per hour
  • 2019 – $12.00 per hour
  • 2020 – $13.50 per hour

Exclusions to the Sick Leave Law

Interestingly, the law excludes employees who do not fall under the minimum wage law. That includes exempt employees. So for most employers, only non-exempt employees will have a legal right to paid sick leave.

The law includes all jobs, including agriculture. It also includes full time, part time, seasonal, and temporary employees.

Sick leave starts accruing on the first date of employment or January 1, 2018, if the employee is currently employed. However, employees are prohibited from using sick leave until after a 90 probationary time has been fulfilled. Sick leave accrues at the rate of 1 hour for every 40 hours worked.

Unlike the Seattle Sick leave law, the state’s does not allow for union contracts to waive the sick leave provisions.

Additional Clarifications Found in the Final Rules

The final rules allow for employers to front-load sick leave but do not provide a required amount. However, they do require the employer to still track sick leave accrual. If an employee uses front loaded sick leave and would have accrued additional sick leave, then the employer must provide more sick leave.

Additionally, if an employee uses front loaded sick leave and then leaves before they would have accrued sick leave, the employer cannot require the employee to pay back sick leave used.

Washington also allows employers to require up to 10 days notice of foreseeable sick leave use. Employers who have a notification policy must distribute the notice to employees in writing.

Employers must also notify employees if they intend to require proof that sick leave has been used in accordance with the allowed uses. Employers can only require documentation if the employee uses 3 or more consecutive days of sick leave.

Employers must also notify employees on at least a monthly basis of the sick leave they have earned, used, and the balance of sick leave remaining.

Employers may not impose sick leave accrual caps on the sick leave provided by law.

Let SwipeClock Help

Businesses with employees in Washington may have to comply with multiple conflicting City ordinances and State law defining Sick leave accrual and usage laws.

Additionally, these businesses have to also comply with Federal Overtime Laws, the Family Medical Leave Act and any other national or local laws that are enacted. SwipeClock provides a comprehensive array of workforce management and time tracking tools that can help businesses to more easily stay in compliance with local and national laws.

Records are effortlessly kept for years and accrual is automatically tracked and reported to employees according to the state and city laws. Additionally, with geo-timekeeping clocks, businesses can effortlessly track time worked in specific cities to ensure compliance.


Labor and Industries Website 

Final Rules 

Written by Annemaria Duran. Last updated on November 7, 2017

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