Paid Sick Leave In 2018: Are You At Risk Of Not Meeting This New Requirement For Washington Employers?
In the fall of 2016, Washington State voters approved Initiative 1433, which made four major changes to state law: (1) it increases the minimum wage; (2) ensures tips and service charges are given to appropriate staff; (3) protects certain employees from retaliation for exercising their legal rights; and (4) requires employers to provide paid sick leave to certain employees beginning on January 1, 2018. With the new year having arrived, employers now must have policies implemented that are in accordance with the new paid sick leave regulations promoted under Initiative 1433.
Initiative 1433 requires employers to notify certain employees of their rights pertaining to the new paid sick leave regulations. Employees entitled to sick leave and hired on or after January 1, 2018, must be notified of their rights at the commencement of their employment. Employees entitled to sick leave and who were hired prior to January 1, 2018 must be notified of their rights by no later than March 1, 2018. To notify employees of their rights, employers should have written policies developed that meet the required regulations.
In addition, a written policy should be used when an employer:
- Implements shared leave programs for employees;
- Provides paid sick leave to employees before it has accrued (frontloading);
- Utilizes a non-calendar year to calculate accrual (i.e. fiscal year, employment year, etc.); or
- Creates a paid time off (PTO) program for employees.
Now that Initiative 1433 has gone into effect, the looming deadline to notify employees of their rights means that employers need to quickly make sure their written policies comply with the new regulations. Employers who do not comply with these new laws may be subject to double damages, attorney fees, interest, personal liability, and potential criminal liability as a gross misdemeanor.
Employers should also note that some cities, such as Seattle and Tacoma, have paid sick leave ordinances that are more favorable to employees. Employers with offices in these cities will need to meet the requirements of the city-specific ordinances as well.
If you are an employer and would like legal counsel to help you navigate through the new paid sick leave regulations, please call Babak Shamsi at Beresford Booth PLLC.