Hotel Employees Health and Safety Initiative - SMC 14.25

Office of Labor Standards Final Administrative Rules are effective on July 1, 2018

The Seattle Office of Labor Standards (OLS) issues the final administrative rules for Seattle's Hotel Employees Health and Safety (HEHS) Initiative. These rules went into effect on July 1, 2018.

OLS also announces the finalization of one additional rule related to the inflation measurement that is needed in the calculation for the additional compensation for medical care as set forth in Seattle Municipal Code 14.25.120. This rule is effect on July 12, 2018.

This voter-passed initiative took effect November 2016 and provides employees with protections against violence, sexual harassment, and workplace injury, and promotes access to health care and job stability. The HEHS Initiative covers hotels with 60 or more guest rooms, with greater requirements for those with 100 or more guest rooms.

The Hotel Employees Health & Safety Initiative 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 ›

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Rules and Ordinances ›

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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 gross taxable earnings toward 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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