Paid sick leave for workers in Seattle takes effect September 1

Aug 22, 2012

A new benefit may be in store for you if you work in Seattle.  After September 1, 2012, employers in the city will be required to provide you with paid sick leave. It covers whether you're  full time, part time or work just occasionally in the city. 

Here's a link that to the specifics of the new paid sick leave law from the city of Seattle's Office for Civil Rights. For the most part, starting next month workers will earn 1 hour of sick leave for every 40 hours worked.

Small businesses are scrambling to make sure they are complying with the law when it goes into effect in a few weeks.

At a city briefing in Ballard, plumbers,  shop owners, shipyard office managers and others who deal with payrolls peppered city representative Karina Bull with questions.

One woman, who has a business in Snohomish County, asked if she would have to pay sick leave for an employee who sometimes does work in Seattle. She was told she would.

"As soon as a worker crosses the border and does work in the city, you need to track their hours for sick leave accumulation," Bull said.

The law may drive some businesses out of the city.

Betty Dameron is a CPA who provides payroll services to small businesses.  She says some of her clients say the law is too costly.

"We have a health home services agency that is no longer going to do business in Seattle because of the law because they can't afford to provide this type of services for 40 employees so they'll stay out of Seattle," she said.

She says another client, a regional hair salon chain, plans to close its one Seattle location.

But even some of those who say it will be a record keeping headache for their business,  support the idea behind the paid sick leave law. Kathryn Mintour is the office manager for a general contractor.

"I think it's a very good law and I think it's very advantageous for workers and I'm happy it's here, I'm just not sure how I can do it," she said.

City leaders say they put the law in place to insure that people who typically don't have benefits, restaurant workers and the like, are covered by the sick leave ordinance.

Researchers at the University of Washington will be reviewing the impacts of the law to see if there are unintended consequences.