Seattle’s Paid Sick and Safe Time Ordinance is Here to Stay – Tips on how to be compliant

It’s been almost two years since Seattle’s paid sick and safe time ordinance (PSST) has passed. Since then it has received both good and bad reviews by policy makers, business owners and employees. As part of the ordinance the City of Seattle asked the Office of the City Auditor and the University of Washington to conduct a study to examine whether employers were knowledgeable about the ordinance, whether they were implementing it and if so how was it affecting their organization.

At a glance, survey results include:

  • The majority of employers are offering some paid leave to full and part time employees.
  • Nearly 40% of employers report that they either do not cover part and full time workers or fail to provide the minimum required hours of leave to their full time workers (hours of leave provided to part time workers were not tracked).
  • Costs to employers and impact on businesses have been modest and smaller than anticipated.
  • Workers view the ordinance as helpful and as a ‘safety net’ so they can take care of themselves and their families.

It is interesting to note that even though the majority of employers are offering some paid leave, it does not mean they are in compliance with the ordinance. And while the ordinance has both its advocates and detractors, PSST is not going away for the near term. So now is the time if you haven’t already to review your organization’s PSST policy and ensure it is compliant.
Here are some key questions you can ask yourself to determine if you are implementing this policy correctly at your organization:

  • Are you keeping accurate records of PSST hours and storing them correctly? For instance, if an employee quits and has unused PSST, you are required to hold on to that person’s records because if he/she returns within seven months they are entitled to those hours.
  • Do you have a company headquartered outside Seattle but have employees doing business in Seattle? You are required to be compliant with the PSST ordinance. You can find more information and guidelines here. http://springboard.resourcefulhr.com/the-occasional-basis-worker-under-seattles-paid-sick-and-safe-time-benefit-ordinance-obligations-for-companies-based-outside-of-seattle/
  • Do you have paid interns? They are covered.
  • Do you employ independent contractors? Independent contractors are not covered. If you have questions regarding the classification of an employee versus independent contractor, you can purchase our resource guide here.
  • Do you have a policy in place regarding PSST so that employees know what is expected of them and how they will receive information about this ordinance? For example, do employees know in what instances it is appropriate to use PSST and when they cannot? Do employees know they can not ask HR or whomever is keeping records for an update on their accrued hours whenever they want and that it will be shared with them on each pay stub.

If you have questions about what is required to be compliant and how to write a policy for your organization, send us an email.
You can view the Office of the City Auditor and University of Washington report in its entirety here.

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