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The Seattle city council recently passed an ordinance requiring employers to provide paid "sick and safe" time off to employees who work in Seattle. In short, employees must be allowed to use the leave to care for certain illnesses, injuries, diagnoses, or preventative care, and also for certain reasons related to sexual assault, domestic violence, and stalking or health-related building closures. The ordinance is expected to go into effect on September 1, 2012 and, as detailed below, will apply to nearly any employer that does more than a minimal amount of business inside city limits - even those not based in Seattle.
Here is some of the basic information about the ordinance:
Covered employees: Employees are covered by the ordinance if they "perform their work in Seattle." Employees who work in Seattle on an occasional basis are covered if they perform more than 240 hours of work per calendar year in Seattle. Traditional, temporary, and part-time workers are included, but individuals performing services under a work-study agreement are not.
Covered employers: Employers with fewer than five employees do not need to provide paid sick or safe time to employees. An employer with five or more employees must, however, provide a certain amount of paid sick and safe time off, depending on where it falls in the ordinance's "tier" system:
All employees, including those who work outside Seattle, must be counted in determining the number of full-time equivalent employees. "Full-time equivalent" means the number of hours worked for compensation that add up to one full-time employee, based either on an eight-hour day and a five-day week, or as defined (either in writing or in practice) by the employer.
The ordinance applies to any employer with at least one employee who works 240 hours or more per calendar year in Seattle. In other words, any employer that is based outside city limits, but employs at least one "covered employee" must provide that individual with paid sick or safe time.
The ordinance contains additional detailed provisions concerning permissible uses for leave, carryover, interaction with an employer's existing paid leave policies, and unused leave, among other topics. If you have questions about the applicability of the ordinance to your business, or any of the provisions of the ordinance, please do not hesitate to contact us.
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