Hotel Employees Health and Safety Initiative - SMC 14.25

Hotel Employees Health and Safety Ordinance
Final Administrative Rules and Announcement for Additional Proposed Rule for the "Inflation Measurement" required by SMC 14.25.120

On June 20, 2018 The Seattle Office of Labor Standards (OLS) announced an additional proposed rule to Chapter 150, the administrative rules for the Hotel Employees Health and Safety (HEHS) Initiative. The proposed rule addresses the inflation measurement in the calculation used to determine the additional compensation for medical care mandated by Seattle Municipal Code (SMC) 14.25.120. On May 31, 2018 OLS announced Chapter 150, the final administrative rules for HEHS, which will be effective July 1, 2018.  This proposed additional rule would be added to this chapter once finalized.

The inflation measurement is part of the formula, found in SMC 14.25.120(A), that is used to determine the amount of additional compensation owed to a covered employee. The inflation measurement is contained in SMC 14.25.120(D) and is defined as the "year-over-year increase in cost of the lowest-cost, gold-level policy available on the Washington Health Benefit Exchange." The cost of a gold-level policy is tied to an individual's smoking status, the county in which the resident lives, and age. To provide a consistent inflation measurement that pertains to hotel employees covered by the ordinance, OLS's proposed rule pegs the lowest-cost, gold- level plan to the average aged employee who is a nonsmoker, lives in King County, and works in the traveler accommodation (hotel/motel) industry.

Members of the public have until Thursday, July 5, 2018 at 5:00pm PST to comment on the proposed rule. OLS anticipates finalizing this rule by July 12, 2018.

The full text of the final rules is available at:
HEHS Final Rules

The text of the proposed rule, SHRR 150-215 is available at:
HEHS Proposed Rule

Please send comments by email to or by regular mail to:

Seattle Office of Labor Standards
810 Third Ave., Suite 375
Seattle, WA 98104-1627
Attn: Jeneé Jahn, Policy Analyst

You can also comment by calling 206-256-5297.

I-124 establishes protections for the health and safety of hotel employees working in Seattle.  SMC 14.25, the new ordinance created by the initiative took effect on November 30, 2016. The ordinance contains seven key sections:

  • Protecting hotel employees from violent assault and sexual harassment
  • Protecting hotel employees from injury
  • Improving access to medical care for low income hotel employees
  • Preventing disruptions in the hotel industry
  • Enforcement
  • Definition
  • Waiver

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Key Requirements

The Hotel Employees Health & Safety Initiative provides protections for the health and safety of hotel employees working in Seattle.  The Initiative applies to hotels of 60 or more guest rooms, with additional provisions applying to large hotels of 100 or more guest rooms. The following are key requirements of the ordinance:

  • A hotel employer must provide a panic button to each hotel employee assigned to work in a guest room without other employees present.
  • A hotel employer must compile and maintain a list of all guests accused of committing an act of violence toward an employee for five years from the date of the accusation.  When the report is of sexual harassment, sexual assault, or harassment and is supported by a sworn statement or other evidence, a hotel employer must decline service to the guest for three years.
  • Guest room doors must have a sign that advertises that "The Law Protects Hotel Housekeepers and Other Employees from Violent Assault and Sexual Harassment (SMC 14.25)," and that employees are provided with panic buttons.
  • Hotel employees who inform employers of an act of guest violence can transfer to different floor or work area (upon request) and be given paid time to contact the police and a counselor.
  • Hotel employers must adopt workplace safety standards and safeguards, including those related to chemical hazard and hazard communications, that are at least equal to those required by the Washington State Industrial Health and Safety Act.    
  • Housekeeping services employees at large hotels can only be required to clean a maximum of 5,000 square feet of guest rooms in an 8 hour day.  Employees may consent to clean additional square feet after being informed of the size of the assignment.  An employee who cleans additional square feet must be paid 1.5 times their regular pay for all cleaning performed that day.  The maximum square footage is proportionally reduced based on the number of hours spent cleaning guest rooms that day and on the number of strenuous room cleanings performed. 
  • Large hotel employers must provide additional compensation reflective of the cost of medical care to low-income hotel employees unless the employee pays no more than 5% of their monthly wages towards an employer-sponsored gold-level insurance premium for themselves or any enrolled family member.  
  • For the first six months following a change in hotel ownership, the new owner must first hire employees who worked for the previous employer before hiring employees who did not work for the old owner.  Retained employees have the right to only be terminated for just cause or for layoff because fewer employees are needed during the first 90 days of employment with the new owner.  Retained employees are entitled to a written performance evaluation at the end of 90 days period. 
  • An employer may not take an adverse action or retaliate against an employee who asserts their rights under the ordinance. 
  • Employees who believe the ordinance has been violated may file a private lawsuit to enforce their rights.   
  • Employees who believe that they have not been properly paid additional compensation afforded by the ordinance may file a wage theft complaint with the Office of Labor Standards
  • Employees that believe that they have been subjected to sexual harassment may file a complaint with the Seattle Office for Civil Rights.


Rules and Ordinances

Administrative Rules - Practices for Administering Hotel Employees Health and Safety Initiative Requirements under SMC 14.25

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