Required sick leave for Washington state workers

A new house bill for paid sick leave hits Washington state.

Shelly Beraza



On Jan. 29, the Washington state House approved by a 52-45 vote a bill that providing certain workers with paid time off if the worker or family of the worker becomes sick.

According to, 40 percent of workers can’t take a paid day off when they get sick. This leaves them with the decision of either getting better and staying home, or taking a chance of losing some of their paycheck.

“… (This is) an act relating to establishing minimum standards for sick and safe leave from employment; adding a new chapter to Title 49 RCW (referring to Washington state labor regulations); and prescribing penalties,” the original bill, House Bill 1313, said.

According to, the bill requires employers with more than four full-time employees to provide paid leave for specific medical reasons that relate to the health of an employee or his or her family member.

These reasons could be related to domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking or the closure of an employee’s place of business, child’s school or place of care. It also covers work absences to care for children, spouses, parents, grandparents and parents-in-law.

Pierce College employees receive eight hours per month of paid sick leave. Sick leave can also be used for care of family members, deaths and care of a child.

“The majority of Pierce College employees already accrue paid sick leave. Our faculty and classified staff are covered by collective bargaining agreements that provide for paid leave accrual and the rules around using it,” Holly Gorski, vice president for the human resources department at Pierce College, said.

The bill also states that those who work for a business that has between four and 50 full-time employees, would earn one hour of paid sick leave for every 40 hours worked with a cap of 40 hours a year. Employees at businesses with 50-250 full-time employees can accrue up to 56 hours per year, in the same ratio as employees of a company with between four and 50 employees. At businesses with more than 250 full-time employees, the cap is set at 72 hours, and they can accrue one hour for every 30 hours worked, about four hours a month of paid sick leave.

“It appears that the sick leave amounts they are proposing are below what the majority of Pierce staff already accrue, so, in that respect, if the bill becomes law it would not have much of an impact. There may be other details that would affect us, however,” Gorski said.

The U.S. federal government doesn’t require or guarantee days off for being sick or paying for it when they do.

Seattle already put an ordinance in place on Oct. 1, 2012, but it has only been observed by about half of all businesses.

The bill went to the Senate for consideration in the Commerce and Labor Committee on Feb. 26.

The Puyallup Post is the award-winning news media of Pierce College Puyallup in Puyallup, Washington. Copyright The Puyallup Post 2018. Find us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Youtube @thepuyalluppost

Required sick leave for Washington state workers

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