Seattle's Paid Sick Leave Law, One Year Later

Sep 3, 2013

Seattle’s Paid Sick and Safe Time Ordinance is a year old this week. The law requires employers with more than four workers to provide paid time off for illness or a safety issue. But not all employers are on board with it.

The law applies to an estimated 11,000 Seattle businesses.  The city commissioned a series of evaluations to see how the ordinance is affecting employers and employees.

University of Washington researcher Jennie Romich said the initial survey showed that two thirds of employers were aware of the ordinance. But that report also indicated that many businesses still need to conform to the law.

“A year ago they were mostly offering it to full-time employees,” she said. “Under the ordinance full-time employees are eligible, part-time employees are eligible, temporary employees who work more than 180 days are eligible; so the majority of employers needed to extend eligibility to at least their part-time or other workers.”

Romich and her colleagues are checking in again now with employers a year later. They’ll issue another report later this month.  

Since the law passed, there were efforts in the Legislature to expand the policy statewide. There were also attempts to limit Seattle’s ordinance. Both failed. But the issue could be revisited when the Legislature convenes next year.