Statewide Minimum Wage and Paid Sick Leave: What You Should Know

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The Presidential election is not the only reason to go to the polls this November. There are many non-Presidential candidates as well as issues on this year’s ballot, including Initiative 1433—a statewide initiative on minimum wage and paid sick leave. I-1433 is a labor-backed initiative aimed at: (1) raising Washington state’s minimum wage to $13.50 per hour by 2020 ($11.00 in 2017; $11.50 in 2018; $12.00 in 2019 and a sizable bump to $13.50 in 2020), and (2) requiring employers to provide one hour of paid sick leave for every 40 hours an employee works. This may not seem newsworthy to Seattle-based employers who are already familiar with the city’s minimum wage and sick and safe leave ordinances but, due in part to open-ended drafting, there are some notable differences between the laws for the city versus the proposed law for the state. For example, under I-1433, tips and service charges paid to an employee are in addition to, and may not count towards, the employee’s hourly minimum wage. Also, I-1433 has no limit on the number of hours of paid leave that an employee can use in a year. Because employees would receive the greater protections afforded under the law, if passed, I-1433 impact will be felt by employers in every city.

With so many changes on the horizon, what remains the same is a trend towards greater protections for employees. This year alone we’ve seen Seattle issue proposed regulations regarding shift scheduling; a significant change to the overtime regulations; and the U.S. Department of Labor publish regulations to establish paid sick leave for federal contractors.  We will be sure to address this trend and the election results for I-1433 in our next Employment Breakfast on November 15.

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