Seattle Expands Its Paid Sick and Safe Time Ordinance in Response to COVID-19
Effective March 18, 2020, the Seattle Paid Sick and Safe Time (PSST) Ordinance allows eligible employees working in Seattle to use PSST when their family member’s school or place of care is closed, regardless of whether such closure is made by a public official. In addition, when “Tier 3” employers (with 250 or more full time equivalent employees worldwide) reduce operations or close a Seattle worksite for any health or safety reason, those employees are now able to use PSST for that reason. Thus far, neither the City Council nor the Office of Labor Standards has provided guidance on what exactly is meant by a reduction in operations.
Previously, PSST was not guaranteed to employees whose child’s school closed for health reasons (but not by a public official), or whose other family member’s place of care was closed for health reasons. Nor was PSST guaranteed to employees of a “Tier 3” employer that simply reduced its Seattle operations or closed its Seattle worksite for health or safety reasons.
Employers should also consider the dramatic impact of the brand-new federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act (H.R. 6201), which provides paid family and medical leave and paid sick leave at the federal level. Those paid leave entitlements are separate and apart from the existing Washington Paid Family and Medical Leave Program and the PSST already available to workers in Seattle and throughout the state.