Updates to Washington’s Paid Sick Leave Law

Washington’s Paid Sick Leave law requires employers to provide non-exempt employees with paid sick leave for certain legally protected reasons, including (1) the employee’s personal medical care; (2) to care for a family member with a mental or physical illness, injury, or health condition; (3) to care for a child when their school or place of care is closed for a health-related reason; (4) closure of the employee’s place of business for a health-related reason; or (5) for reasons under Washington’s Domestic Violence Leave Act.

Washington’s Legislature recently amended the Paid Sick Leave law in two important ways.

Expanded Definitions of Family and Child

Beginning January 1, 2025, the definitions of who is considered an employee’s family member or child for purposes of using paid sick leave and when paid sick leave can be used for closure of a child’s school or place of care will be expanded as follows:

  • The definition of “family” is revised to include: (1) any individual who regularly resides in the employee’s home (except that it does not include an individual who simply resides in the same home with no expectation that the employee care for the individual unless that individual); and (2) an individual for whom the relationship creates an expectation that the employee will care for the person, and that individual depends on the employee for care.
  • “Child” will now also include the spouse of the employee’s child.
  • The Paid Sick Leave law already allows employees to use paid sick leave when an employee’s child’s school or place of care has been closed by order of a public official for any health-related reason. With the amendment, employees will be allowed to use paid sick leave when an employee’s child’s school or place of care has been closed if there is a declaration of an emergency by a local, state, or federal government or agency.

Employers should update their paid sick leave policies to reflect the changes above prior to January 1, 2025.

Modification for Payout of Accrued Sick Leave to Construction Workers

As of January 1, 2024, Washington’s Paid Sick Leave law imposed a new requirement on employers to pay the entire balance of accrued, unused sick leave upon separation to all workers covered under the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) Code 23, including workers not directly engaged in the construction work itself, such as administrative staff. Covered construction workers who quit or are terminated are entitled to this payout regardless of the circumstances of their separation.

The Legislature further revised the Paid Sick Leave law, to clarify which workers in the construction industry must receive paid sick leave payouts upon separation. As of March 13, 2024, the new payout requirement is limited to workers directly engaged in construction work by performing “service, maintenance, or construction work on a jobsite, in the field or in a fabrication shop using tools of the worker’s trade or craft.”

For more information about Washington’s Sick Leave law, please contact any of employment law attorneys at Montgomery Purdue.