Paid sick leave

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A city department has enforced Seattle’s mandatory sick leave ordinance mainly by sending violators a polite letter. Now the city auditor says it’s time to get tougher.

Seattle’s Office of Civil Rights used a pretty light touch during the first year of requiring businesses to provide paid sick leave for workers. The department would typically respond after a worker complained, sending the employer a “non-adversarial letter.”

Ashley Gross / KPLU

This may be the year that Seattle adopts one of the highest minimum wages in the country. But labor advocates and Seattle City Council member Nick Licata say without tough enforcement, a new wage law will be toothless. 

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University of Washington researchers say Seattle needs to do more to let businesses know about its paid-sick leave ordinance. They found almost half of business owners didn’t know about it as the law was taking effect last year. 

Seattle began requiring businesses with more than four employees to offer paid sick leave last Sept. 1. The city auditor hired UW researchers to conduct a survey right around that time. They found that four out of 10 employers knew nothing about it.

pixieclipx / Flickr

A group in Tacoma is starting a campaign to get a paid sick leave ordinance passed. The supporters are taking a cue from the city of Seattle, which last year began mandating that businesses offer paid time off for illnesses. 

Healthy Tacoma is a coalition of nonprofits, labor unions, and religious groups pushing to get the sick-leave ordinance passed. They say about 40,000 workers in Tacoma can’t take a paid day off work when they or a family member is sick. Many of those people work in food service, increasing the chance that they’ll spread the illness to others. 

OLYMPIA, Wash. – The Washington Senate moved Monday to limit the reach of Seattle’s pioneering paid sick leave law. In 2011, the city council voted to require all companies that do business in Seattle to offer paid sick leave. But in Olympia, the state Senate approved a measure to limit the benefit only to those companies and workers based almost all the time within the city limits.

State Sen. David Frockt from Seattle complained the bill is an attack on local control.