Employers in Washington and Oregon Should be Aware of Paid Sick / Safe Time Requirements in Seattle and Portland

Two years ago the City of Seattle passed a new ordinance regulating paid sick and safe leave to employees.  Portland has recently followed suit.  As a result, if Employers have employees who perform work in Seattle or Portland – even on an occasional basis – they may be required to pay sick or safe time in accordance with those city ordinances.

Seattle Paid Sick / Safe Time

Under Seattle’s regulations, employers are required to provide paid sick/safe time (“PSST”) if they have more than 4 full-time equivalent employees (“FTEs”) who perform work in Seattle.  The amount of PSST an employee may use in any calendar year depends on the size of the employer (measured in terms of FTEs).  For small and mid-size employers (tiers 1 and 2), eligible employees are entitled to accrue 1 hour of PSST for every 40 hours worked.  For large employers (tier 3), eligible employees are entitled to accrue 1 hour of PSST for every 30 hours worked.  See the chart below:

Seattle PSST

Number of Employees (FTEs)

Accrual Rate

Annual Usage

Annual Carry Over

Tier 1

More than 4 FTEs

1 hour per 40 hours worked (~ 6.5 days per year for FT)

40 hours (5 days)

40 hours (5 days)

Tier 2

50 or more FTEs

1 hour per 40 hours worked (~ 6.5 days per year for FT)

56 hours (7 days)

56 hours (7 days)

Tier 3

250 or more FTEs

1 hour per 30 hours worked (~ 9 days per year for FT)

72 hours (9 days) or 108 hours (13.5 days) for PTO programs

72 hours (9 days) or 108 hours (13.5 days) for PTO programs

The annual usage and annual carry-over columns above are minimum requirements established by the Seattle PSST regulations.  Employers may cap annual PSST usage and carry-over, as long as the minimum requirements are satisfied.

Portland Protected Paid / Unpaid Sick Time

Under Portland’s regulations, employers who operate within the Portland city limits must provide protected paid or unpaid sick time (“PST”).  See the chart below.

Portland PST

Number of Employees

Accrual Rate

Annual Usage

Annual Carry Over

Unpaid PST

5 or Fewer Employees

1 hour per 30 hours worked

40 hours (5 days)

40 hours (5 days)

Paid PST

6 or More Employees

1 hour per 30 hours worked

40 hours (5 days)

40 hours (5 days)

The annual usage and annual carry-over columns above are minimum requirements established by the Portland PST regulations.  Employers may cap annual PST usage and carry-over, as long as the minimum requirements are satisfied.

Both ordinances are relatively new.  Additional requirements may apply under Portland PST and Seattle PSST regulations.

Selena C. Smith is a Washington and Oregon licensed attorney representing Management in labor and employment.  For more information contact Selena at ssmith@davisgrimmpayne.com, or at (206) 447-0182.

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