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Cannabis Employee Job Retention Ordinance

Ordinance: SMC 8.38

In September 2022, City Council passed and the Mayor signed, the Cannabis Employee Job Retention Ordinance, SMC 8.38. This law is effective on July 19, 2023.

This law requires covered cannabis business employers to provide notice to their employees of a change in ownership. It also requires the incoming (new) employer to retain employees for certain periods of time following the change, among other hiring and retention requirements. Covered employers are those who own, operate and/or control a cannabis business. Covered employees include those who work at a covered cannabis business for at least 30 days prior to a change in ownership. Key protections include: 

  1. Outgoing employer obligations
    • Outgoing employers that undergo a change in ownership must provide a preferential hiring list to the incoming employer.
    • Outgoing employers must post notice of the change in ownership at the jobsite.
  2. Incoming employer obligations
    • Incoming employers must hire form the preferential hiring list for 180 days. If an employee accepts a job offer, the employer must retain the employee for no less than 90 days and can only discharge the employee for just cause during this time period. 
    • Incoming employers must continue to post notice of the change in ownership for 180 days. 
  3. Notice and Posting. Employers must provide a notice of rights afforded under the ordinance. Employers must also provide a written notice to employees of the names used by any associated integrated enterprises.
  1. Recordkeeping. Employers must maintain records that document compliance for a period of three years. 

In the coming months, OLS will release additional explanatory guidance on this ordinance as well as begin formal rulemaking to further clarify its provisions. If you wish to be included in a list of stakeholders to receive further information on rulemaking, please email

If you have questions about the law, contact us via our online inquiry form or via phone at (206) 256-5297

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The Office of Labor Standards enforces Seattle’s labor standards ordinances to protect workers and educate employers on their responsibilities.