The new Seattle Paid Sick Time and Safe Time Ordinance (“Ordinance”) took effect on September 1, 2012, making Seattle the most recent city to require employers to provide time-off to employees. Under this broad Ordinance, employees accrue paid sick time and safe time (“PSST”) pursuant to a schedule based on the number of workers employed. Especially noteworthy about this new Ordinance is that it focuses on where the employee works and not where the employer is located. Thus, many employers outside of Seattle must provide PSST if they have employees performing work in Seattle.
Who is eligible for PSST?
Employees are eligible for PSST if they perform work in Seattle on a full-time, part-time, or temporary basis, and even if they merely stop in Seattle as a purpose of their work. Nevertheless, employees occasionally working in Seattle are covered only if they work more than 240 hours in Seattle within a calendar year.
Which employers are covered by the Ordinance?
The ordinance separates employers into three tiers for leave accrual purposes: Tier One (5 – 49 full-time employees); Tier two (50 – 249 full-time employees); and Tier three (250+ full-time employees). The employer’s size is calculated by counting all employees in any location, not just those working in Seattle. Temporary workers supplied by a staffing agency are counted for tier size of the staffing agency and the contracting employer.
PSST does not apply to new Tier One and Tier Two employers until 24 months after the first employee was hired. Also excluded from coverage are the United States government, the State of Washington, and any county or local government other than the city of Seattle.
When do employees begin accruing PSST and what is the accrual rate?
Eligible employees began accruing PSST when the ordinance went into effect on September 1, 2012. Employees hired after September 1, 2012 will begin accruing PSST as soon as they start working. The accrual rate for PSST depends on the employer’s size:
- Tier One: Employees accrue one hour for every 40 hours worked up to an annual cap of 40 hours.
- Tier Two: Employees accrue one hour for every 40 hours worked up to an annual cap of 56 hours.
- Tier Three: Employees accrue one hour for every 30 hours worked up to an annual cap of 72 hours.
FLSA-exempt employees do not accrue additional leave if they work more than 40-hour workweeks. If an FLSA-exempt employee works fewer than 40 hours in a normal workweek, PSST accrues based on the employee’s normal workweek.