Washington State's Paid Sick Leave Law One Year Away

The Washington State Department of Labor & Industries will adopt rules in 2017 to enforce the new requirement, including procedures for notification to employees and reporting regarding sick leave, and protecting employees from retaliation for the lawful use of sick leave.

Washington state's minimum wage is rising to $11 an hour starting on Jan. 1, 2017, thanks to voters' passing Initiative 1433. The new minimum wage applies to all jobs, including those in agriculture, but workers under 16 can be paid 85 percent of the adult minimum wage, or $9.35 per hour, in 2017.

The initiative also addressed paid sick leave -- it requires employers to provide paid sick leave starting Jan. 1, 2018.

The Washington State Department of Labor & Industries must adopt rules to enforce the new requirement, including "procedures for notification to employees and reporting regarding sick leave, and protecting employees from retaliation for the lawful use of sick leave," according to the initiative.

L&I announced that the official rulemaking process will include public comment opportunities and will be done during 2017.

Seattle, Tacoma, and the city of SeaTac already have higher minimum wage rates in place for 2017, so for employers in those areas, the local minimum wage rate will apply as long as it is higher than the state minimum. The new law does not change minimum wage exemptions or regulations regarding overtime pay. Since 1998, L&I has been responsible for calculating the state's minimum wage each September; under Initiative 1433, the minimum wage will increase to $13.50 by 2020.

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