Businesses preparing to bring remote workers back to the City of Seattle should take time to ensure their employment practices comply with both state and local labor ordinances. This was driven home by a recent $250,000 settlement reported by the Seattle Office of Labor Standards (OLS) involving alleged violations of rules governing travel time, meal periods, and rest breaks. This is a good reminder that OLS has broad authority to enforce Washington State’s employment laws along with its own labor ordinances. So that your organization is prepared for your workers to return to the City, we have prepared a refresher survey of Seattle’s labor ordinances, along with tips for compliance.
Seattle’s Independent Contractor Protections Ordinance becomes effective on September 1, 2022.
- This ordinance requires hiring entities to provide independent contractors performing work in Seattle with pre-contract disclosures that describe the work, the location of the work, the compensation structure, and pay schedule.
- At the time of payment, hiring entities must disclose much of the same information required by the pre-contract disclosures, plus the gross payment, specific deductions, and net payment after deductions.
- And finally, hiring entities must provide timely payment as required by the contract or the pre-contract disclosure, or within 30 days of contract performance.
Seattle’s Wage Theft Ordinance, which became effective on April 1, 2015, imposes many wage notice requirements.
- This ordinance requires payment for all compensation owed for work performed within Seattle city limits on a regular identified payday, at least once every month.
- It further requires written notice at the time of hire and when it changes, including pay rates, pay basis, paydays and tip policies, and other employer information.
- Because the ordinance requires employers to pay employees “all compensation owed” by reason of employment, OLS has authority to enforce Washington State wage and hour laws and regulations.
- Additionally, the Ordinance defines “compensation” to include “reimbursement for employment expenses,” which is further defined to mean “all necessary expenditures or losses incurred by the employee in direct consequence of the discharge of the employee’s duties, or of the employee’s obedience to the directions of the employer.”
Seattle’s Paid Sick and Safe Time Ordinance, which became effective in 2012, establishes minimum standards for employers to provide paid sick and safe time (PSST) to employees who work within Seattle city limits.
- Importantly, Seattle’s PSST Ordinance covers most employees working in Seattle, regardless of overtime eligibility, meaning that hourly non-exempt employees and salaried exempt employees are entitled to paid leave. In addition, employees who work occasionally in Seattle are covered, implicating remote workers within city limits.
- In contrast, Washington State’s Paid Sick Leave Act only covers non-exempt employees who are eligible for overtime compensation under the Washington Minimum Wage Act.
- Seattle’s PSST Ordinance also classifies employers depending on their size into tiers, with higher accrual and carryover rates for larger employers.
- In contrast, Washington’s law imposes a single accrual and carryover rate regardless of employer size.
Seattle’s Minimum Wage Ordinance, which became effective in 2015, establishes minimum wage standards for employees working within Seattle city limits.
- This Ordinance establishes a schedule setting different requirements and timelines for implementing the minimum wage based on the employer’s size: (1) large employers are those with 501 or more employees; and (2) small employers are those with 500 or fewer employees.
- Commencing on January 1, 2022, the minimum wage for large or small employers in Seattle is $17.27 per hour. However, small employers have two options: (1) pay an hourly minimum compensation of $17.27 per hour; or (2) pay an hourly minimum wage of $15.75 per hour and make up the balance with employee tips and/or payments toward an employee’s qualifying medical benefits plan.
- Seattle’s OLS announces the next year’s minimum wage during the Fall of each year, so employers must remain vigilant to ensure they are remaining compliant.
What Else Should Employers With Seattle Workers Know?
- Seattle’s Commuter Benefits Ordinance, which became effective on January 1, 2020, requires employers to provide employees with the opportunity to make a monthly pre-tax payroll deduction for transit or vanpool expenses.
- Employers who employ Seattle-based hotel employees and employees with certain relationships to hotels must comply with the Hotel Employees Safety Protection Ordinance, the Protecting Hotel Employees from Injury Ordinance, and the Improving Access to Medical Care for Hotel Employees Ordinance, all of which became effective on July 1, 2020.
- Domestic workers working in Seattle city limits are entitled to labor protections under the Domestic Workers Ordinance that include minimum wage requirements, meal periods and rest breaks, days of rest for live-in workers, and protection from retaliation, among other things.
- Gig workers of “Food Delivery Network Companies” and “Transportation Network Companies” with 250 or more gig workers worldwide are eligible for paid sick and safe time and premium pay during the COVID-19 civil emergency, under the COVID-19 Gig Worker Protection Ordinance. This followed Seattle’s earlier Transportation Network Company Legislation which regulates transportation network companies and became effective on November 26, 2019.
- Grocery businesses in Seattle are required to pay hazard pay to employees working in retail stores during the COVID-19 civil emergency under the Grocery Employee Hazard Pay Ordinance.
- Seattle’s Secure Scheduling Ordinance applies to hourly employees at retail and food services establishments with 500 or more employees worldwide. Full service restaurants must have 40 or more full-service locations worldwide. While certain premium pay for schedule changes were suspended during COVID-19, this could change if and when the COVID-19 emergency is declared over.
Lane Powell’s team of labor and employment attorneys is here to help your organization comply with state and local laws, and develop and implement the strategy that supports your business and your employees. For more information, contact Katheryn Bradley or Hannah Ard. Keep up-to-date by subscribing to Lane Powell’s Legal Updates.