Today, July 5, 2017, Washington State Governor Jay Inslee signed into law Senate Bill 5975, a bipartisan bill providing paid family and medical leave for Washington employees. Although the law does not go into effect until 2020, here are the key details:
1. Eligible workers can take extended paid leave for a new child, a severely ill family member, or the worker's own serious health condition.
2. Both employers and employees pay into the system, but the burden to both is expected to be low. According to the Washington State Senate, an employee making $50,000 per year would pay $2.42 per week and the employer would pay $1.42 -- less than a trip to Starbucks.
3. The weekly amount paid out is capped at $1,000. Workers earning less than $1,000 per week would receive a payment of 90% of their income while on leave.
4. Two (2) additional weeks are available for health conditions related to a pregnancy.
5. Self-employed workers will only be required to pay the employee share to receive the benefits.
6. Employers with fifty (50) or fewer employees are exempt from the employer share of premiums as well.
7. Premiums will begin to be collected on January 1, 2019 from employers and employees.
8. Total annual leave is between 12 and 16 weeks maximum, depending upon the circumstances.
Washington is the 5th state to have a paid family leave program, joining California, New Jersey, Rhode Island, and New York. If you already have paid leave options or if you want to learn more as an employer or employee, contact an employment attorney. Note that this paid leave program is a supplement to state and federal FMLA laws.
Last week we posted an article from the Journal of Business on our Facebook page regarding the new minimum wage rates in Washington State. The increased minimum wage is the result of an initiative, meaning a vote of the citizens, not a vote of the state legislature. As a result, the minimum wage in Washington State in most counties is now $11.00/hour. There are some exemptions for 14 and 15-year-old workers, and a few counties and municipalities have higher wages than the $11.00. However, all hourly employees must be paid a minimum of $11.00 per hour, for both agricultural and non-agricultural work.
In addition to increased minimum wage that went into effect on January 1, 2017, the City of Spokane enacted (over a mayoral veto) the Spokane Earned Safe and Sick Leave Ordinance. This applies to virtually all companies employing workings within the Spokane City limits. Here’s what you need to know:
Companies that have paid time off (PTO) or equivalent programs can substitute those policies for the earned safe & sick leave, if they are at least as generous as the Spokane ordinance. Employers who do not follow the policy can face monetary penalties and suspension of their business licenses.
Is your Spokane-based business compliant? GIANTlegal can assist you in tracking leave, setting up a PTO plan, and updating your Employee Handbooks to ensure compliance with these issues. Contact us at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
All blog posts are written by members of the GIANTlegal team, unless otherwise indicated. Information contained in our blog does not constitute legal advice, nor does it create an attorney-client relationship.