Washington’s Department of Labor and Industries has now concluded its process for drafting and finalizing the regulations for implementing Washington’s paid sick leave law, which becomes effective on January 1, 2018. Now employers can finish drafting legally compliant paid sick leave policies. The complementary enforcement regulations are still a work in progress and are not expected to be finalized until at least mid-December 2017.

Background

Washington voters approved Initiative 1433 (I-1433) in November of 2016, which increased the state minimum wage and created paid sick and safe leave for nonexempt Washington employees. Following its passage, the Department began drafting regulations which have been through multiple drafts, comment periods, and public hearings.

Current Status

The Department recently finalized the regulations to implement Washington’s paid sick leave law. This article discusses the key requirements for drafting and implementing legally compliant policies. The basis of these requirements can be found in statute (RCW 49.46.200 and 210) and regulations (WAC 296-128-600 through 760).

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The regulations required to implement paid sick leave policies are complex and involved. Drafting and implementing a paid sick leave policy is a unique endeavor for every employer and particularly complex for multistate employers that have to comply with these requirements and other state or local laws. Additional complexities arise for employers operating in municipalities requiring paid sick leave, including the cities of SeaTac, Seattle, and Tacoma. PTO requirements may also compel additional changes in practice for employers to avoid an entire PTO allotment’s becoming protected leave subject to the paid sick leave law.

As the paid sick leave law and implementing regulations contain a number of nuances, employers should exercise great care in developing legally compliant Washington State paid sick leave policies.

For an in-depth discussion of Washington State’s paid sick leave law, as well as other recent enactments pertaining to Washington’s minimum wage, paid family and medical leave rules, and employer obligations to accommodate pregnant employees, join us for our upcoming webinar, “Paid Sick Leave, the Healthy Starts Act, and More: Washington State Employment Law Update,” featuring Adam T. Pankratz (shareholder, Seattle) and Sonja D. Fritts (of counsel, Seattle) on Tuesday, November 7, 2017, at 11 a.m. Pacific. To register for this timely program, click here.