Paid Sick Leave and Family & Medical Leave Roundtable Draws Crowd

For the second time this year local business owners and human resource managers gathered to learn the latest updates on two new Washington State labor laws; Paid Sick Leave and Paid Family & Medical Leave.

Roshelle Pavlin, Strategic Human Resources Consultant for BBSI, dove into the details of how these programs work and what businesses need to do to remain in compliance.

Paid Sick Leave

Paid Sick Leave went into effect January first of this year and requires businesses to provide 1 hour of sick time for every 40 worked. Unused paid sick leave of 40 hours or less must be carried over to the following year.

This is a great benefit for employees and is also good for business because a sick employee that comes into work can end up getting other employees sick or even customers. Unfortunately, there are numerous examples from the past year of how the benefit has been abused where employees took sick time when they were not sick or used sick time instead of vacation time.

The reason for the abuse is that there is no requirement for employees to have their illness documented and businesses cannot require employees to provide proof that they were actually sick.

“The law is intended to help workers that are sick take the time they need to recover and well,” said Jonathan Smith, Executive Director of Yakima County Development Association. “If it ends up being used taken when employees aren’t really sick then what happens when they do come down with the flu or a serious cold? They will end up coming into work and we won’t have solved the problem.”

Paid Family & Medical Leave

Starting in 2020, Washington will be the fifth state in the nation to offer paid family and medical leave benefits to workers. The program will be funded by premiums paid by both employees and many employers.

Premium payments begin on Jan. 1, 2019 and are 0.4% of an employee’s gross wages. Under the law, employers may split the cost of the program with employees by withholding up to 63% of the premium from their paychecks. The State has created a calculator that can be used to estimate the premium for each employee a business has: https://paidleave.wa.gov/premium-calculator

This benefit will allow workers to take necessary time off when they welcome a new child into their family, are struck by a serious illness or injury, or need to take care of an ill or ailing relative. and benefits can be taken starting Jan. 1, 2020.

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