The Washington Sick Leave Law – Effective January 1, 2018

The Washington Sick Leave Law – Effective January 1, 2018

In November 2016, Washington voters approved Initiative Measure No. 1433, a ballot measure that increases Washington’s minimum wage, but also requires employers to provide employees with paid sick leave. This law will go into effect on January 1, 2018.

What does this mean for Washington employers? Virtually all Washington employers will be affected by this new law, so now is the time to review your existing paid time off and sick leave policies to determine whether any changes need to be made prior to January 1st.

Here is an overview of the law’s new components along with a comparison to Oregon Sick Leave.

Oregon Washington
Employee Covered Full-time, part-time, seasonal/temporary Full-time, part-time, seasonal
Family Member Definition Employee’s spouse, same-gender domestic partner, biological child, adopted child, stepchild, foster child, same-gender domestic partner’s child, parent, adoptive parent, stepparent, foster parent, parent-in-law, same-gender domestic partner’s parent, grandparent, grandchild, and any individual with whom an employee has or had an in loco parentis relationship. (a) A child, including a biological, adopted, or foster child, stepchild, or a child to whom the employee stands in loco parentis, is a legal guardian, or is a de facto parent, regardless of age or dependency status;

(b) A biological, adoptive, de facto, or foster parent, stepparent, or legal guardian of an employee or the employee’s spouse or registered domestic partner, or a person who stood in loco parentis when the employee was a minor child;

(c) A spouse;

(d) A registered domestic partner;

(e) A grandparent;

(f) A grandchild; or

(g) A sibling.

Accrual Start 1st day of employment 1st day of employment
Accrual Rate 1 for 30 1 for 40
Use Cap 40 Unknown
Use Increments no more than 1 hour no more than 1 hour however, if employer tracks time in increments of less than 1 hour then employees must be able to use sick leave in that same increment, i.e., 15 minutes
Carryover 40 40
Accrual Cap 40 Unknown
Waiting Period 91st day 90th day
Use Reasons (1) For your mental or physical illness, injury or health condition, need for medical diagnosis, care or treatment of a mental or physical illness, injury or health condition or need for preventive medical care; (2) Care of a family member for the above reasons; (3)   For any of the purposes covered under the Oregon Family Leave Act (OFLA), including the employee’s serious health condition; to care for a family member with a serious health condition; to bond with and care for a new child (parental leave); to care for a child with a non-serious injury or illness requiring home care (sick child leave); or bereavement leave to deal with the death of a family member; (4) For leave related to domestic violence, harassment, sexual assault or stalking of the employee or dependent child of the employee; (5) Donating accrued sick time to another employee if the other employee uses the donated sick time for a purpose under Oregon law; (6) Public health emergency, including closure of the employee’s place of business, or the school or place of care of the employee’s child, by order of a public health authority or health care provider that the presence of the employee or the family member of the employee in the community would jeopardize the health of others; or (7)   Exclusion of the employee from the workplace under any law or rule that requires the employer to exclude the employee from the workplace for health reasons. (1) To care for themselves or their family members. (2) When the employees’ workplace or their child’s school or place of care has been closed by a public official for any health-related reason. (3) For absences that qualify for leave under the state’s Domestic Violence Leave Act.
Notice Requirements Foreseeable leave = at least 10 days, Unforseeable = as soon as possible Foreseeable = as soon as practicable but employer cannot require more than 14 days notice

Unforeseeable = as soon as possible before the scheduled start of his or her shift, unless it is not practicable to do so

Doctor’s Note More than 3 days More than 3 days
Payout at Termination No No
Reinstatement upon rehire Yes if rehired within 6 months Yes if rehired within 12 months
Retaliation Cannot discriminate or retaliate against an employee for requesting, using, or complaining that they are not receiving sick leave. Cannot discriminate or retaliate against an employee for his or her exercise of any rights under the law including the use of paid sick leave.


Julie Matthiessen

As Sales & Marketing Coordinator, Julie supports and collaborates with the Marketing Director and VP of Sales & Marketing to develop content and execute marketing strategies, as well as provide customer service and support to potential clients. She also contributes internally at Xenium as a member of the innovative culture development group XCITE.

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