A recent University of Washington study shows that many Seattle employers do not comply with the city’s sick leave ordinance. According to the study, which surveyed over 1400 employers, 27.1% of employers do not offer their employees paid sick leave or any kind of paid time off. The study also showed that almost 40% of employers stated that they were not aware of Seattle’s ordinance. Employers who are not aware of or do not comply with this ordinance could face enforcement action.
Seattle’s Paid Sick or Safe Time (“PSST”) Ordinance requires that Seattle employers with more than four full-time equivalent employees offer their workers paid time off for illness or safety reasons. The PSST Ordinance applies to all employees, including full-time, part-time, and occasional or temporary employees. However, the UW study showed that only 3% of employers offered paid sick leave or paid time off to temporary employees, while only 34.6% of employers gave that option to part-time workers.
The employers surveyed stated that sick employees tend to stay home, regardless of whether the employer offers paid sick leave. Over 90% of employers reported that employees stayed home when they were sick. On the other hand, 40.6% of employers indicated that employees had gone to work while they were sick. Interestingly, 44% of employers who offer their employees paid sick leave reported workers coming in sick, as opposed to only 31.3% of employers who do not offer paid sick leave. UW plans to issue several other reports over the coming year that will evaluate whether the PSST Ordinance is effective in reducing the number of employees who come to work while sick.
The majority of all employers surveyed stated that they were aware of the PSST Ordinance. However, for employers who do not offer any kind of paid leave, 53.7% stated that they were not aware of the law. The study indicated that Seattle branches of national employers were less likely to be aware of the PSST Ordinance.
The study also reported that around 40% of employers who are aware of the PSST Ordinance and do not offer any kind paid leave have no plans to change their policies to comply with the law. On the other hand, about 25% of employers overall have changed or intend to change their sick leave policies to comply with the PSST Ordinance.
Seattle’s PSST Ordinance applies to over 11,000 employers. It sets minimum standards for the amount of paid leave an employee can take for illness or safety reasons. Employers are also required to notify their employees about their rights under the PSST Ordinance. The Seattle Office for Civil Rights is responsible for enforcing this ordinance and file charges against employers who violate it. If you have questions about compliance with the PSST Ordinance or are facing an enforcement action, contact an employment lawyer for advice.