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Paid Sick Leave Provisions in Washington State Leave Unknowns

On April 7, 2017, the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries released proposed rules to implement a ballot initiative that will increase the state’s minimum wage and require employers to provide paid sick leave. The measure, known as Initiative 1433, was approved by Washington voters last November and will take effect on the first day of 2018. Initiative 1433 follows in the footsteps of similar initiatives in cities like St. Paul and Minneapolis. Courtney Blanchard, labor and employment attorney at Minneapolis-based Nilan Johnson Lewis, notes that the measure leaves open several unanswered questions—particularly with paid sick and safe leave requirements. “Unlike similar measures across the country, Initiative 1433 failed to create an annual cap on the amount of sick leave that an employee could use or accrue,” Blanchard says. Accordingly, she adds, the employees are entitled to accrue unlimited sick time at a rate of one hour for every 40 hours worked, roll over 40 hours from the previous year, and use all sick time available to them. The proposed rules expressly prohibit capping accrual, but the rules do not address whether employers may institute a cap on the use of sick time throughout the year. The Department of Labor and Industries is currently soliciting feedback and comment on the proposed rules with a deadline of April 28, 2017, after which time the draft proposed rules will be updated and recirculated. To speak with Courtney Blanchard on this topic or to find out more about submitting feedback, email or call 612.305.7732.

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