Archbright™ Insights March 2015


HR Advice and Counsel

NEW Law: Tacoma Paid Sick Time and Paid Safe Time Ordinance

On January 27, 2015, the Tacoma City Council passed an ordinance requiring businesses operating within the City of Tacoma to o:er paid sick time and paid safe time for their employees. Here are important highlights of the bill: When did this ordinance take e=ect? February 1, 2016 Which employers are covered? 1. All employers who have more than 1 employee. a. Employees who work for the employer, but do not work in Tacoma are counted in this total. b. Temporary employees are counted, as well as employees of a third party staXng agency who provide services and log compensated hours to the employer. c. Part time employees are counted. 2. State, federal, and county governments are exempt. 3. Single person employers are exempt. Which employees are eligible for paid sick leave and paid safe time? 1. Employees who perform their work in Tacoma. 2. Employees who perform work on an “occasional basis” in Tacoma are covered if they perform more than 80 hours of work in Tacoma in a calendar year. 3. Employers are permitted to have employees wait up to 180 calendar days from their hire date to access available time oR. 4. Employees of temporary staXng agencies will receive their paid leave benefit through their staXng agency and not the organization in which they are placed. 5. Persons working under work study agreement or as independent contractors are not eligible. What is “paid sick time”? Paid sick time means an employee’s absence from work due to mental or physical illness, injury or health condition, to accommodate the employee’s medical situation, or for preventative medical care. Time oR also includes needed leave to care for a family member as allowed and defined under the Washington Family Care Act. What is “paid safe time”? Paid safe time includes absences: (1) when a public oXcial closes the employer’s place of business due to infectious or contagious agents or hazardous materials; (2) to accommodate day care or school closures when ordered by a public oXcial for the reasons stated above; and (3) for reasons of domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking as set forth un der RCW Chapter 49.76.

How much paid leave (to be used as either sick time or safe time) must be awarded? Employers shall provide employees with a maximum of one hour of paid leave for every 40 hours worked within the City of Tacoma, up to a total of 24 hours. When does the accrual start for each employee? 1. Accrual of paid time begins at the start of employment or the date this ordinance takes eRect, whichever is later. 2. Employers must choose a reasonable method for providing notice of remaining available paid time on each pay stub or may develop an on line system where employees may access their own paid leave information. How soon can an employee use the accrued paid time? 1. The paid time accrued can be taken after 180 calendar days of employment. 2. If an employee leaves employment and is rehired within 6 months of separation by the same employer (including diRerent business locations of the employer), the employee’s previous employment must be counted towards the eligibility waiting period and any previously unused accrued paid leave must be reinstated. 3. Upon rehire, the employee shall have immediate access to reinstated accrued paid leave and newly accrued paid leave. How much unused paid leave can be carried over into the next year? Employers shall allow employees to carry over any accrued and unused hours up to 24 hours to the following calendar year. Employees may use hours carried over for a total not to exceed 40 hours in the calendar year. Can the employer set a cumulative maximum total of paid leave hours? Yes. An employer can identify a cumulative maximum total of paid leave hours, e.g., 40 hours. How much pay must the employee receive? Employees must be paid at the same hourly rate and with the same benefits as the employee would have earned during the time the paid leave is taken. Pay does not include lost tips or commissions for not having worked. Is the mandatory paid time in addition to an existing vacation policy? Not necessarily, employers may permit use of other paid leave (e.g., vacation, personal days) to meet the paid leave requirements, as long as employees enjoy the same or better provisions as required by this ordinance. Employers who wish to adopt this method of compliance are advised to insert the following language in their vacation or personal day policies, “employees may use vacation (personal days) for Tacoma paid sick and safe leave reasons.”


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