8/20/2014

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Bill to guarantee paid sick leave passes state House

Bill to guarantee paid sick leave passes state House
Photo courtesy of Flickr user William Brawley.
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OLYMPIA, Wash. (AP) - A bill that would guarantee paid sick time away from work for some employees in Washington state passed the House Wednesday.

"No one should be forced to go to work sick," said the bill's sponsor, Rep. Laurie Jinkins, D-Tacoma. "You shouldn't have to choose whether or not to stay home with a sick kid or put food on the table for your family at the end of the week."

The chamber approved the measure on a 52-45 vote. The bill requires employers with more than four full-time employees to provide paid leave for specified medical reasons relating to the employee's or a family member's health; reasons related to domestic violence, sexual assault and stalking; or the closure of an employee's place of business, or a child's school or place of care due to public health emergencies. It covers work absences to care for children, spouses, parents, grandparents and parents-in-law.

Republican Rep. Jesse Young, of Gig Harbor, opposed the bill, saying, "A job with no sick leave is better than no job at all."

Under the measure, employees would accrue and would be able to use leave based on the size of their employer. Workers, including those who are temporary and part-time, accrue and may use leave if they work 240 hours or more in the state in a calendar year.

Those who work for a business with between four and 50 full-time employees would earn one hour of paid sick leave for every 40 hours worked, with a cap of 40 hours. Those working for companies with 50-250 full-time employees would accrue one hour for every 40 hours worked with a cap of 56 hours. People working for companies with more than 250 full-time employees would earn one hour for every 30 hours worked, with a 72-hour cap.

Seasonal employees rehired by the same employer within seven months must have their accrued and unused sick leave reinstated.

In 2011, the city of Seattle adopted an ordinance requiring employers to provide paid sick and safe leave. It went into effect Oct. 1, 2012.

Connecticut is the only state that requires private employers to provide paid sick leave, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. There are no federal requirements for paid sick leave.

The bill now goes to the Senate for consideration in the Commerce and Labor Committee.

The chairwoman of that committee, Sen. Janea Holmquist Newbry, R-Moses Lake, said Wednesday she supported giving the bill a hearing.

"I think these debates are really healthy," she said.
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