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SEATTLE OFFICE FOR CIVIL RIGHTS

Seattle Paid Sick and Safe Time Ordinance

Overview

  • Begins on September 1, 2012.
  • Provides paid sick and safe time (PSST) for employees working within Seattle City limits.
  • Sets minimum requirements for accrual, use, and carryover of PSST.
  • Requires employer notification and tracking of PSST.
  • Offers basic job protections for employees who use PSST.
  • New law is enforced by Seattle Office for Civil Rights.

What is PSST?

SICK TIME can be used for:

  • Personal illness or preventative care.
  • Care for a family member’s illness or preventative care (child, grandparent, parent, parent-in-law, spouse and registered domestic partner).

SAFE TIME can be used for:

  • Survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking.
  • Closure of workplace or child’s school or place of care by public official to limit exposure to infectious agent, biological toxin or hazardous material.

Who is covered?

  • Employees who perform work in Seattle:
    • Full-time, part-time, temporary, and occasional-basis employees.
    • Employees who telecommute in Seattle.
    • Employees who stop in Seattle as a purpose of their work.
  • Excludes:
    • Federal, state, or county government employers
    • Employees who work or telecommute outside of Seattle.
    • Employees who travel through Seattle.
    • Students enrolled in a work study program.
    • Two year exemption for new small and medium-sized employers (Tier 1 and Tier 2)

 

General Information

 

Small (Tier 1)
Employer

 

Medium (Tier 2)
Employer

 

Large (Tier 3)
Employer

Full Time Equivalents (FTEs)

More than 4-49 employees

More than 49 to 249 employees

250 or more employees

Accrual of paid sick/safe time

1 hour / 40 hours worked

1 hour / 40 hours worked

1 hour / 30 hours worked

Use of paid sick/safe time

40 hours / calendar year

56 hours / calendar year

72 hours / calendar year

Carryover of unused
paid sick/safe time

40 hours / calendar year

56 hours / calendar year

72 hours / calendar year


Other facts:

  • Accrual begins on September 1, 2012 or when the employee is hired after this date.
  • Accrual based on hours worked in Seattle including overtime for non-exempt employees.
  • Accrual for occasional employees begins after they have worked 240 hours in a calendar year. Accrual begins on the 241st hour; employees are covered for current and following calendar year.
  • Use begins on 180th calendar day from the beginning of employment.
  • Hour-long increments: PSST can be used in hour-long increments.
  • Carry-over: Employees permitted to carry over unused hours to the next calendar year.
  • Frontloading permitted for accrual, use and carry over.
  • Combined or universal leave (aka Personal Time Off / PTO) policies are permitted, provided they comply with the PSST Ordinance.
  • Cash out option: If employer allows, employees have the voluntary option to cash out unused PSST.
  • Rate of pay: Same hourly wage that employee would have earned during time PSST was taken.
  • Excludes lost tips and commissions that employee might have received when PSST was taken.
  • No waivers: Employees cannot waive their right to PSST (except collective bargaining agreements).
  • Separation from employment: PSST reinstated if an employee is rehired within 7 months by the same employer.
  • Other laws: Ordinance does not preempt or limit application of federal, state or other local laws.
  • Other laws: PSST can be coordinated with other leave laws such as FMLA, Domestic Violence Leave, Workers Compensation etc.

How does an employee request use of PSST?

  • Foreseeable leave: A written request at least 10 days in advance of leave (unless employer’s policy requires less notice.)
  • Unforeseeable leave: Give notice “as soon as practicable” (in compliance with the employer’s policy for unforeseeable leave).
  • Paid safe time: end of first day of for domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking.
  • Employer policies: Employer can require employees to follow their rules about giving notice.

Employee documentation for use of PSST:

  • 1-3 consecutive days: Employee not required to provide documentation.
  • More than 3 consecutive days: Employer may require documentation (e.g. statement from healthcare professional that sick time was necessary).
  • Clear instance or pattern of abuse: Employer may ask for documentation for absences that are shorter than 3 days.
  • Privacy: Employer cannot require statement regarding the nature of the illness or other private medical information (but FMLA and ADA may apply and permit such inquiries).
  • Payment for documentation:
  • If employer does not offer health insurance: Employer and employee each pay 50% of the cost to obtain documentation (services by health care professionals and facilities, prescribed testing and transportation service providers).
  • If employee declined health insurance: Employee is not entitled to reimbursement.
  • Paid SAFE time for domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking:
  • Police report.
  • Court order.
  • Documentation that the employee or employee’s family member is experiencing domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking.
  • Employee’s written statement is acceptable documentation by itself.
  • Confidential – no explanation required of the nature of the situation or reason for taking leave.

PSST and employer attendance policies:

  • Absence control policies: PSST cannot be counted as an absence that may result in discipline.
  • Clear instance or pattern of abuse: Employer can take reasonable action (e.g. discipline) for:
  • Repeated absences.
  • Absences that precede or follow regular days off, or some other pattern without valid reason.
  • Obtaining or using paid sick time improperly.

PSST notice and record-keeping requirements:

  • Notice: employers are required to provide notice to all employees who work in Seattle, regardless of employer tier size or location. Notice must be:
  • Conspicuous and accessible.
  • Physical and/or electronic.
  • Notification: Employers must provide notification of available PSST each time wages are paid:
  • By paystub and/or online.
  • Record keeping: Employers must retain PSST records for two years that indicate:
  • Employee hours worked in Seattle.
  • Accrued PSST by employee.
  • Use of PSST by employee.

Retaliation protection

  • Retaliation is illegal. Employers are prohibited from disciplining or discriminating against employees who have exercised their rights under the Ordinance.
  • Employee and third-party complaints are permitted.
  • Broad protection against retaliation: Anti-retaliation provision applies to ALL employers with one or more employees.

Collective Bargaining Agreements (CBA):

  • Waiver of rights is permitted:
  • In CBA or MOA (Memorandum of Agreement).
  • Must be in clear and unambiguous language.
  • Must include a specific reference to the Ordinance.

City of Seattle employees:

  • PSST Ordinance applies to City of Seattle employees:
  • Most City employees already receive PSST benefit.
  • City policies regarding temporary employees have been changed to comply with the Ordinance.