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Seattle’s Revised Paid Sick and Safe Time Rules

In January 2018, Seattle’s amended Paid Sick and Safe Time (PSST) ordinance took effect, and in June 2018, the Seattle Office of Labor Standards (OLS) announced its final revised administrative rules interpreting the amended ordinance. Both the ordinance and the administrative rules were amended to comply with Initiative 1433, which provides paid sick leave on a state-wide basis.  Compared with OLS’s original 2012 rules, there are notable differences in the new rules, a few of which are highlighted below.

Joint Employers.  Under the original rules, temporary staffing agencies were responsible for compliance regarding employees they placed at client-businesses.  Under the revised rules, however, the client-business is deemed a joint employer and thus jointly responsible for complying with the ordinance, including record-keeping requirements.

Occasional Employees.  Employees who are “typically based outside [Seattle] and perform[] work in [Seattle] on an occasional basis” are not covered by the ordinance except if they work more than 240 hours in Seattle within a 12-month period.  The new rules provide two examples that limit this exception such that employers must provide immediate coverage (i.e., without waiting for the employee to work more than 240 hours in Seattle) for some employees.  First, employees who are regularly scheduled to perform even small amounts of work in Seattle (e.g., employees who regularly work one day per week in Seattle) are not “occasional” employees and are therefore covered by the ordinance immediately upon starting to work in Seattle.  Second, employees scheduled to work in Seattle on a temporary but consistent basis (e.g., every day for a three-month project) are also not “occasional” employees and are therefore covered upon starting work in Seattle as well.

Use of Leave.  Under the old rules, employers were not required to allow employees to use paid leave for overtime hours employees agreed to add to their schedules.  The new rules, though, allow employees to use paid leave for any hours they are “scheduled to have worked,” even if an employee voluntary added the hours to his regular schedule.  For example, an employee who agreed to work hours beyond his regular 40 in a week can now use paid sick and safe leave for those additional hours if needed.

Normal Hourly Compensation.  The PSST ordinance requires employers to pay the employee’s “normal hourly compensation” for all PSST used.  The new rules define “normal hourly compensation” to include any differential rate (e.g., for working the night shift) but exclude overtime rates, holiday pay, and other “premium” rates.  For instance, if an employer pays a shift differential for working the night shift, employees who use paid sick time for the night shift would receive that shift differential.  But where an employer pays a premium rate on holidays, an employee who uses paid sick time on such a holiday would not receive the higher holiday rate.

These are just a few of the new requirements employers will need to be aware of in OLS’s revised PSST rules. Employers should evaluate their paid sick and safe time policies to help ensure compliance with all of the new rules.

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