Spokane Paid Leave Guide

Spokane Paid Leave Guide

Spokane’s new Paid Leave Ordinance, adopted by the Spokane City Council in January 2016, will take effect January 1, 2017. This guide is intended to help businesses navigate this new law but this guide should not be considered a substitute for legal counsel.

If you would like more information about this ordinance, please email Zacharyl@warestaurant.org.

Effective Date

This ordinance shall be effective January 1, 2017. However, businesses that receive their first business registration in the City of Spokane after the enactment of this ordinance, but before the effective date, shall not be subject to this ordinance for a period of 1 year after the date of their first business registration in the City of Spokane.

Nothing in the ordinance prohibits an employer from offering earned sick and safe leave to its employees at any point in time earlier than the effective date of this ordinance.

Enforcement

The procedures for the enforcement of the rights, duties, and obligations created by this ordinance shall be determined by the Spokane City Council and the administration shall be in effect no later than October 1, 2016. Your local GA Team will monitor this issue closely and keep you updated.

It shall be unlawful for any employer to retaliate against any employee covered by this ordinance or to misrepresent its business activities in order to evade the requirements of this ordinance. Penalties for a violation of this ordinance is a class 1 civil infraction, as shown in SMC 1.05.170(B). The agency or court is authorized to triple the penalty in cases where the employer has been found to have retaliated against an employee. For each subsequent violation of this ordinance, the agency is authorized to double the penalty stated in SMC 09.01.080(C)(1).

The license officer may refuse to issue, revoke or refuse to renew any license issued under this ordinance if the applicant has violated the city’s earned sick and safe leave ordinance 5 times within the past 10 years.

Applicability

In general, this ordinance applies to all employees in the City of Spokane who physically perform more than 240 hours of work within the City of Spokane.

However, this ordinance does not apply to work-study students, independent contractors or seasonal workers, or those employed by a firm engaged in “construction work” as defined in WAC 296-155-012.

This ordinance also does not apply to newly licensed businesses for 1 year following the issuance of the first City of Spokane business license.

Accrual Rates

Beginning with their first day of employment, all covered employees shall accrue paid leave at the rate of at least 1 hour of leave for every 30 hours worked.

  • Employees of businesses having fewer than 10 employees may use up to 24 hours of leave accrued under this ordinance in any year. (Immediate family members of the business owners are not included in the employee count.)
  • Employees of businesses with 10 or more employees may use up to 40 hours of leave accrued under this ordinance in any year.

Nothing in this ordinance prohibits an employer from providing earned sick and safe leave in advance of accrual such as “front-loading” leave hours at the beginning of each year.

Carry Over

An employee may carry over into the next year up to 24 hours of earned sick and safe leave which were not used in the prior year.

Nothing in the ordinance requires employers to allow employees returning from separation to reinstate the earned sick and safe leave balance accrued during a prior period of employment or to compensate an employee for the employee’s accrued and unused earned sick and safe leave upon an employee’s termination, resignation, retirement, or other separation from employment.

Permitted Uses of Leave

An employee may use accrued earned sick and safe leave for:

  • Diagnosis, care, or treatment of the employee’s mental of physical illness, injury, or health condition.
  • The diagnosis, care, or treatment for the employee’s family member’s mental or physical illness, injury, or health condition.
  • Any reason identified in RCW 49.76.030 or to seek protection or safety from events or conduct specified in SMC 10.09.010(B).
  • Any period in which the employer’s business or the employee’s child’s school or place of care is closed by order of a public official to limit exposure to an infectious agent, biological toxin, or hazardous material.
  • Bereavement (the period of grief and mourning after a death) leave in connection with a family member of the employee.

Compensation

Employees shall receive the same rate of pay and benefits during their paid sick and safe leave time as they would have earned during their scheduled work hours but for which leave is taken.

Employers are not required to compensate employees who take leave under this ordinance for tips or commissions the employee may have earned during the leave period.

Shift Swapping

An employer will be in full compliance with this ordinance by allowing shift-swapping or the use of Paid Time Off (PTO) for the same purposes required above in the permitted uses of leave section and in the same amounts as provided in the accrual rates section.

Nothing in this ordinance prohibits or requires an employer from allowing an employee to donate earned sick and safe leave hours to another employee of the same employer.

Nothing in this chapter prohibits an employer from requiring that covered employees complete a probationary period before using accrued leave provided that any such period may be no longer than 90 days.

Notices and Posting

Beginning on the effective date of this ordinance (January 1, 2017), employers shall post a notice summarizing employees’ and employers’ rights and obligations concerning earned sick and safe leave in this ordinance in a place commonly accessible to employees.

This notice is being finalized by the City of Spokane and will be available soon.

Employer Responsibilities

Employers shall maintain records, consistent with the employer’s usual and customary business practices, of each employee’s earned sick and safe leave accrual and use, for 3 years.

Each employer shall provide information concerning accrued earned sick and safe leave, including that employee’s leave balance and amount of leave used by that employee during the current fiscal year. Employers shall provide this information no less than once per quarter or upon request by an employee.

Beginning on the effective date of this ordinance (January 1, 2017) when making application for a new business registration or a renewal of business registration, each applicant or registrant must certify its compliance with this ordinance.

No Waiver

Nothing in this ordinance is or shall be construed to be a waiver, limitation, or preemption of any other rights, whether arising under state, federal, or local law or regulation, or by the existence of any bona fide collective bargaining agreement entered into pursuant to chapters 41.56 or 41.80 RCW, or RCW 74.39A.270, by the City of by any other person.

Severability

If any court of law determines that any particular provision of this ordinance is void or of no legal effect, the offending provision(s) shall be struck from this ordinance and the remainder of the ordinance shall continue unaffected.

Generous Employer Policies

Nothing in this ordinance prohibits employers from implementing an earned sick and safe leave policy which exceeds the minimum standards prescribed in this ordinance.

Nothing in this ordinance prohibits employers from offering “all-purpose” Paid Time Off (PTO) in place of earned sick and safe leave provided that any PTO policy accrue and be available for use in at least the same amounts and for at least the same purposes as is the earned sick and safe leave provided in this ordinance.