Washington Paid Sick Leave
Under Washington’s paid sick leave law, all employees in Washington, with a few exceptions, are eligible to accrue and use one hour of paid sick leave for every 40 hours worked each calendar year (or other 12-month period).
- Have employees accrue paid sick time at a rate of 1 hour for every 40 hours worked, or
- Grant up front the projected amount of paid sick leave each employee is expected to accrue for the year, at the beginning of each 12-month period. Employers will need to make adjustments later in the year if more paid sick leave is owed to the employee.
In either case, employers are required to allow employees to carry over up to 40 hours of paid sick leave from one year into the next.
There are other requirements under the law, which you can read more on here. Some of these requirements are also detailed further below.
If more than one paid sick leave law applies, you must comply with the provisions of each law that most benefit the employee. Your paid sick leave policy and practices should be reviewed periodically by your legal counsel for the states and localities in which your employees are working to ensure compliance with all applicable federal, state, and local laws.
All employees, with a few exceptions, who work in Washington are entitled to paid sick leave.
Employees may use accrued paid sick time for any of the following reasons:
- To care for themselves or a family member for the following reasons: mental or physical illness, injury, or health condition; to accommodate the employee’s need for medical diagnosis, care, or treatment of a mental or physical illness, injury, or health condition; or an employee’s need for preventative medical care.
- An employee’s place of business, or their child’s school or place of care has been closed by order of a public official for any health-related reason.
- An employee qualifies for leave under WA’s Domestic Violence Leave Act.
Setting up a compliant policy
Employers are required to set up a policy that meets the minimum requirements for both Washington and any applicable local paid sick leave ordinances, and document the policy in a written form. Washington’s paid sick leave law outlines the different methods for accruing and paying sick leave time that will satisfy the state law’s requirements, which you can read more about here.
Setting up a “front-load” policy may be the most administratively simple approach. In a “front-load” approach, you grant upfront the minimum leave hours required by the corresponding jurisdiction. You can set up a policy in Justworks by following the directions here.
Employers also need to display this poster for all their employees in Washington. It has information on the many rights employees have, one of which is to accrue and use paid sick leave.
Under Washington’s paid sick leave law, employers are required to include certain information about their paid sick leave policy in a notice that is distributed at the time of hire to each of their employees working in Washington. You can find a link to the state's sample document here.
Employers must show, at least once per month, how many days of sick leave the employee has available. This information may be stored on documents available to employees electronically.
If you set up a paid sick leave policy in Justworks, we will automatically add this information to employee paystubs.
Limitations on Paid Sick Leave
Employees begin accruing paid sick time on their first day of work, but employers can limit their ability to take their paid sick leave until the employee has been employed for 90 days.
An employer is not required to pay out accrued, unused paid sick time when an employee separates from employment with the employer. However, if you are providing paid sick time through your general PTO policy, you will need to pay out all of an employee’s accrued, unused PTO upon separation from employment.
Keep in mind that if a separated employee is rehired within a year of separation, employers must reinstate the employee's prior unused paid sick leave.
WA Dept. of L&I: Paid Sick Leave
WA Dept. of L&I: Implementing a Paid Sick Leave Policy - Employer Resource Center
This material has been prepared for informational purposes only, and is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for, legal or tax advice. If you have any legal or tax questions regarding this content or related issues, then you should consult with your professional legal or tax advisor.