Washington State 2018 New Sick Leave Law


On November 9, 2016 Washington state voters voted in a new minimum wage and sick leave law. They did not realize that the new law would fail to create an uniform sick leave law across the state because Tacoma, Seattle, SeaTac and Spokane already had sick leave laws in place. Each law has its own set of requirements that creates a maze of compliance and regulations for the employers, and each county and city has different paid sick leave laws as well. 

When it takes effect

The new sick leave law takes effect January 1, 2018 and requires all employers to provide sick leave to their employees. . That means that even agricultural jobs are covered and any employer with even one covered employee working in Washington must provide the mandatory sick leave. Full time, part time, temporary, and seasonal employees are all covered as well. 

Exempt Employees

Employers are not required to offer paid sick leave to exempt employees. This includes white collar employees, outside sales persons, and others.  RCW 49.46.010 will provide the full list of exempt employees.


  1. Most employees must accrue paid sick leave at a minimum rate of 1 hour of paid sick leave for every 40 hours worked. This includes part-time and seasonal workers.
  2. Paid sick leave must be paid to employees at their normal hourly compensation.
  3. Employees are entitled to use accrued paid sick leave beginning on the 90th calendar day after the start of their employment.
  4. Unused paid sick leave of 40 hours or less must be carried over to the following year.
  5. Employers are allowed to provide employees with more generous carry over and accrual policies.


Employees may use paid sick leave:

  1. To care for themselves or their family members.
  2. When the employees’ workplace or their child's school or place of care has been closed by a public official for any health-related reason.
  3. For absences that qualify for leave under the state's Domestic Violence Leave Act.
  1. Employers may allow employees to use paid sick leave for additional purposes.

Rulemaking for paid sick leave

The Department of Labor & Industries has been developing rules to explain and enforce the new requirements.

These rules include:

  1. Procedures for employers to notify their employee(s).
  2. Recordkeeping and reporting requirements regarding paid sick leave.
  3. Processes to protect employees from retaliation for the lawful use of paid sick leave.


The Paid Sick Leave Rules (50 KB PDF) were finalized in October 2017. Rulemaking for enforcement of the new law is underway.


To see more about State Mandated Sick Leave you can check out this Post.  State Mandated Paid Sick Leave  

For County and City Sick Leave you can check out this Post.  County and City Mandated Sick Leave 



Washington State Department of Labor & Industries   



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