Q: When does the initiative go into effect?
A: The first minimum wage increase, to $11/hr goes into effect Jan. 1, 2017. Employers have between now and Jan. 1 to make the adjustment to $11/hr. The paid sick leave component of the initiative will begin Jan. 1, 2018. Employers will have a little over a year to adjust to the requirements.
Q. Does this law apply to large businesses only or to businesses of any size?
A. The initiative applies to all businesses, of all sizes, across all sectors. There are no exemptions or phase in periods for small businesses.
Q. Does the minimum wage increase apply to employees under 18?
A. Yes. The language in the initiative applies to workers 16 and older. Employees 16 and older must be paid the full minimum wage. However, 14- and 15-year-olds may still be paid 85% of the minimum wage as previously done under state law.
Q. What if our city already has a local minimum wage and paid leave law?
A. Precedence is given to whichever law has the highest benefit controls. For example, I-1433 only increases to $13.50, while the minimum wage within the city of Seattle will continue to increase up to $15, and then allow for cost of living increases after that. Seattle’s law, which has the highest benefit, will supersede I-1433.
Q. What if our city minimum wage and paid leave ordinance has different deadlines for compliance?
A. 3 cities in Washington have higher minimum wage ordinances; SeaTac, Seattle and Tacoma, and paid sick leave policies exist in those cities as well as Spokane. Employers should continue to comply with their local wage and sick leave ordinance until the state wide law surpasses or requires more of employers. The initiative will not pre-empt those policies, unless the state requirement surpasses the local requirement.
We have prepared a comparison for employers is the following areas:
Q. Does the paid leave provision mean that an employee must work 40 hours a week, or be full time, to accrue paid leave?
A. No. Even part-time employees can accrue one hour of paid leave for every 40 hours work. All employees, regardless of full time status will begin to accrue sick leave beginning Jan. 1, 2018 at a rate of 1 hour for every 40 hours worked (unless a local ordinance requires more). Employees will be eligible to use paid sick and safe leave after they have been employed for 90 days.
Q. Do I have to “cash out” paid leave my employee hasn’t used if they quit? Or, if they get fired?
A. Employees are able to carry over a maximum of 40 hours of paid sick leave to the next year. Employers are not required “cash out” unused leave time in the event an employee leaves or is terminated. However, they are able to do so if they choose.
Q: Can I require “Black Out Days” where employees cannot use sick leave? (I.E. Valentines Day, New Years Eve)