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Paid Sick Leave Will be the Law Starting January 1st

Beginning January 1, 2018, Washington employers will be required to provide workers with paid sick leave. Initiative 1433, which was passed by voters in fall 2016, requires four primary changes to Washington State law:

  1. Employers required to provide paid sick leave to most employees effective January 1, 2018.
  2. Minimum wage increased over the next few years.
  3. Tips and service charges must be given to the appropriate staff
  4. Employees protected from retaliation when pursuing their rights under the Minimum Wage Requirements and Labor Standards Act.

Paid Sick Leave Requirements


  • The majority of companies will be required to give paid sick leave to workers at a minimum rate of 1 hour of paid sick leave for every 40 hours worked. This includes part-time and seasonal workers.
  • Paid sick leave also must be paid to employees at their normal hourly compensation rate.
  • Employees can use accrued paid sick leave starting on the 90th calendar day following the first day of employment.
  • Unused sick leave amounting to 40 hours or less will carry over to the next year.
  • Employers can provide their workers with more generous carry over and accrual policies, if they wish


Employees have the right to use paid sick leave for the following purposes:

  • Caring for themselves or their family members.
  • When the employees’ workplace or their child’s school is officially closed down for a health-related reason.
  • For absences that fall under the state’s Domestic Violence Leave Act.

Employers may permit employees to use paid sick leave for additional purposes, at their discretion.

Rulemaking for paid sick leave

The Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) has developed rules to communicate and implement the new requirements.

These rules include:

  • Procedures for employers to notify employees.
  • Recordkeeping and reporting requirements related to paid sick leave.
  • Processes to protect employees from retaliation when they use of paid sick leave lawfully.

Notice: A public hearing (including an overview of the draft proposed rules) will take place at the following times and locations:

November 8 at 10 a.m.
Spokane Center Place Auditorium
2426 N Discovery Pl
Spokane Valley WA 99216November 9 at 10 a.m.
L&I – Tumwater Auditorium
7273 Linderson Way SW
Tumwater WA 98501

A public hearing is a formal agency meeting where the public can participate in the rulemaking process by providing testimony on a proposed rule.

Paid family and medical leave

The Washington State Legislature passed the paid family and medical leave bill in the 2017 legislative session. This new law will be administered by the Washington State Employment Security Department.

Beginning in 2019, the program will be funded by premiums paid by employers and employees. In 2020, it will allow workers to apply for up to 12 weeks of paid leave for personal illness, pregnancy or illness of family members.

For more information, see Paid Family and Medical Leave (PFML) (


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