UPDATE: The Seattle Office of Labor Standards published its final Paid Sick and Safe Time rules, available here. The rule defining the rate of pay for paid sick leave has been modified and reopened for public comment. As originally proposed, the rate of pay for PSST, known as “normal hourly compensation,” would have included holiday pay and premium pay. Under the new proposal, the definition of normal hourly compensation will align with state law to include differentials, however holiday pay and premium pay would be excluded. OLS will accept comments on this proposed rule until 5:00 p.m. on June 19, 2018.

The Seattle Office of Labor Standards (OLS) is currently accepting public comment on its proposed revisions to the Seattle Paid Sick and Safe Time (PSST) Ordinance, some of which are controversial.

Employers and individuals interested in submitting comments may do so by email to karina.bull@seattle.gov or by regular mail to:

Seattle Office of Labor Standards

810 Third Ave., Suite 375

Seattle, WA 98104-1627

Attn: Karina Bull, OLS Policy Manager

Individuals may also comment by calling 206-256-5297.

Overview:

The City of Seattle recently amended the PSST Ordinance to more closely align with the Washington State Paid Sick Leave Law (“PSL”), which went into effect on January 1, 2018. OLS is now proposing amendments to its administrative rules. While most of the proposed revisions align with the new state law, there are some key differences that Seattle employers should be aware of, including (1) holiday and premium pay; (2) occasional employee threshold; (3) frontloading; (4) increments of use; (5) written policy requirements; and (6) mandatory size of poster. The proposed revisions to the PSST rules are here and a chart noting the key differences between the Washington PSL requirements and proposed Seattle PSST requirements can be found here.

Proposed Seattle PSST Rule Changes:

Holiday and Premium Pay: The Washington PSL does not require employers to pay holiday pay or other premium pay rates when employees use paid sick leave. However, under Seattle’s proposed amended rules, an employer would be required to pay holiday pay rates and other premium rates when an employee uses PSST.

Occasional Employee: An employee who is typically based outside of Seattle but “occasionally” works in Seattle will be covered under the PSST Ordinance for all hours worked in Seattle once the employee works at least 240 hours in Seattle in one year. Under the proposed rule, an employee who meets the 240 hour threshold will remain an “occasional employee” for the duration of employment. Additionally, an employee who has a regular schedule of hours in Seattle (e.g., works every Monday in Seattle or works every day in Seattle on a three-month project) will not be considered an “occasional employee” and is covered by the PSST Ordinance for every hour worked in Seattle.

Frontloading: Under Washington state law, an employer who frontloads PSL may deduct wages from an employee’s final wages if there is an agreement in place allowing an employee to do so. However, under Seattle’s proposed amended rules, an employer in Seattle will be prohibited from seeking reimbursement if the employer chooses to frontload PSST.

Increments of Use: Under both Washington law and Seattle’s ordinance, employees may use sick leave in increments consistent with the employer’s payroll system, not to exceed one hour. In rulemaking, the state acknowledged that requiring use in such small increments as a one-size-fits-all rule would not be reasonable for all employers. Accordingly, it devised a variance program, through which an employer who establishes good cause for the variance receives authorization to require use of paid sick leave in larger increments. In Seattle’s proposed rules, OLS would not grant variances nor would it recognize variances issued by the state for work performed in Seattle.

Written Policy: The proposed PSST rules would require that Seattle employer’s written policies state that an employee will be paid his or her normal hourly compensation for use of PSST. The Washington PSL does not have a similar requirement for written policies governing the use of PSL. If this rule is implemented, Seattle employers who have already updated their policies to comply with the new state law would need to make additional updates to comply with new PSST notice requirement by September 1, 2018.

Poster Size: The proposed PSST rules would require Seattle employers to display a workplace poster in the specific dimensions mandated by the OLS. OLS has noted it may require an 11”x 17” workplace poster.

Conclusion:

Seattle’s amended PSST rules will likely have a significant impact on the operations of covered employers. The proposed rules are not yet final. Comments in favor of or against the proposed rules must be submitted by May 13, 2018