The “Occasional Basis Worker” Under Seattle’s Paid Sick and Safe Time Benefit Ordinance – Obligations for Companies Based Outside of Seattle

By Amy Gaskill

Seattle’s paid sick and safe time benefit (PSST) went into effect on September 1, 2012. It may seem like eons ago considering all that you are working on but it may be something that has slipped off your radar due to your full plate. Or maybe your company is growing and is sending workers into the city for the first time since the ordinance took effect. This is the important element to consider: Even if your headquarters are outside of Seattle but have employees that travel to Seattle for client work you are still mandated to adhere to the Seattle PSST ordinance. The Seattle Office of Civil Rights requires that “Occasional Basis Workers” must accrue PSST after working 240 paid hours within the city limits. The amount of accrual varies and we can help you design a policy that works for your organization – more details and resources below.

Quick tips and several resources to help manage this process:

  • An “Occasional Basis Worker” is defined as one who works primarily outside the City of Seattle, but who works inside the city limits on an ad hoc, irregular basis.
  • Companies must track hours worked in Seattle for all workers. (See the exception for qualifying PTO programs, below.)
  • Accrual time starts the minute your employee arrives in the Seattle City limits from the time they leave, except when the employee is just driving through. This means that even if there is a traffic jam on the way to the meeting downtown, they must accrue PSST hours.
  • Accrual of PSST hours begins on the 241st hour of work within the Seattle City Limits. Employees must be allowed to use accrued PSST hours no later than 180 days from the day they begin accruing.
  • There are different accrual rates based on whether you are tier one, two or three company. This is a great place to learn more information: http://www.seattle.gov/civilrights/spssto.htm
  • If your company offers Paid Time Off (PTO) program that allows employees to use the benefit hours for issues that would qualify for PSST, and the accrual rate meets the minimum requirements under the PSST, tracking hours worked within the city limits is not required. However, all other requirements of the PSST (such as qualifying events and minimum usage requirements) must be met within your existing policy.
  • Commission-only and piece rate workers must also track their hours worked within the city, and must be compensated at least at minimum wage for PSST hours used.

For even more information check out: http://equinoxbusinesslaw.com/?s=paid+sick+and+safe+time

Do you have questions regarding this ordinance? – how to write a compliant policy, how to track it, how to apply it – let us know! We also look forward to hearing your tips on how you are tracking hours and remaining compliant. Let us know in the comments below.

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