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Time Off in Flu Season: Paid Sick Leave and Initiative 1433

In November 2016, Washington state voters passed Initiative 1433. As of January 1, 2018, Washington employers are required to offer paid sick leave to non-exempt employees. The paid sick leave requirement incorporates many different procedures including employer recording and notification, paid sick leave accrual and usage, etc. We encourage you to learn more about how Initiative 1433 may affect you.

Paid Sick Leave Accrual

As of January 1, 2018, non-exempt employees (including part-time and seasonal workers) begin accruing paid sick leave for all hours worked, including overtime. The minimum accrual rate is one hour of paid sick leave for every 40 hours worked. An employee’s accrued, unused paid sick leave balance of 40 hours or less must be carried over to the following year.

Paid Sick Leave Usage

Employees may use paid sick leave for authorized uses including caring for themselves or their family members, for preventative medical care, etc. Employees are entitled to use accrued paid sick leave beginning on the 90th calendar day after the start of their employment. Employees may use their paid sick leave without being required to find a replacement for their shift. If an employee feels like they are being discriminated against for using their sick leave and have evidence that they are being targeted for a specific reason, making them afraid to take their time off sick, then they can look into contacting professionals such as The Lacy Employment Law Firm or a law firm within their area, so they can be represented in their case and seek justice.

Paid Sick Leave Notification Requirements

Employers must record and provide each employee written notification, not less than monthly, detailing:

  • The amount of paid sick leave accrued since the last notification;
  • The amount of paid sick leave reduced (through usage, donation, etc.) since the last notification; and
  • The total amount of unused paid sick leave available for use

New employees that are hired on or after January 1, 2018 must receive notice of employer’s sick leave policy no later than the start of their employment.

Existing employees that have been hired prior to January 1, 2018 must receive their first notice of your sick leave policy no later than March 1, 2018. Please follow these links to the Department of Labor and Industries for a sample notification form and the notification requirements.

What to Do If You Offer Paid Time Off

If you have a paid time off program (“PTO”) (e.g., a program that combines vacation leave, sick leave or other forms of leave into one pool), you satisfy the requirement for paid sick leave so long as your program meets or exceeds the provisions in the paid sick leave law. An employee might choose to use their PTO for other reasons than the authorized purposes under the paid sick leave law. Later, if the need for use of paid sick leave later arises when no remaining PTO leave is available (as can be determined by analyzing the data on the company’s Vacation tracking software), the employer is not required to provide any additional PTO leave to the employee.

If You Do Not Offer Paid Time Off

If you do not offer paid time off, you will still need to implement a sick leave policy that complies with the new paid sick leave law. L&I has a sample paid sick leave policy on its website.

If You Already Have A Sick Leave Policy

If you already have a sick leave policy you should review it to make sure it complies with Initiative 1433’s requirements.

Online Resources

Washington State Department of Labor & Industries Employer Resource Center:

If you have any questions or concerns about how the new paid sick leave law will affect your business we encourage you to contact us at (206) 448-7000 or

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