Seattle Hotel Employee Protections Take Effect

Four ordinances with protections for hotel employees have become law in Seattle. The protections range from panic buttons, room cleaning and square footage limits, required expenditures for health care coverage and job retention requirements. The four ordinances were passed by the city council in the fall of 2019.

The four new laws bring a range of requirements for hotels with 60 guest rooms or more, as well as ‘ancillary hotel businesses’ or those businesses which service hotels in various ways. Three of the four ordinances impact the ancillary hotel businesses.

One of the ordinances involves requiring panic buttons—already a requirement at the state level. But the ordinance goes further than the state law to require devices in Seattle summon assistance to the specific location. The law also requires policies and notifications of guests and employees about protections against violent or harassing conduct, actions in the event of an allegation and employee rights in the event of an allegation or reported incident. The notifications include signage on guest room doors.

Another law sets limits on workloads for room cleaning of 4,500 square feet over an eight-hour shift. The limit is reduced under certain circumstances. Language in the law also provides for additional pay of three times the employees’ salary for cleaning guest rooms in excess of 4,500 square feet. A separate ordinance sets requirements in place for preferential and mandatory hiring of current employees in the event of a change of ownership, including signage on the property before and after the change.

The fourth ordinance establishes required monthly healthcare expenditure amounts for employees working 80 hours or more a month, with some exceptions. Expenditure amounts range from $480 a month for a single employee to $1,260 a month for an employee with a spouse or domestic partner and one or more dependents. Employees can waive the coverage if they are already covered elsewhere.

The ordinances contains parts of laws similar to laws passed in other west coast cities such as San Francisco and Santa Monica. To read the Seattle laws, click here.