What is paid sick and safe time (PSST)?

PSST allows almost all workers in Seattle to take paid time off to care of themselves or of family members who are sick. In workplaces where there are at least five full-time employees, everyone is eligible for paid sick and safe time. That includes full-time, part-time, and temporary employees. You will start to accumulate your paid leave hours as soon as you begin your job. You can’t, however, start to use your paid leave until you’ve been working at your job for at least 180 days (six months). When taking sick leave, you should be paid your regular hourly rate, which cannot be less than Seattle’s minimum wage. When on sick leave, employers are not required to pay workers lost tips or commissions.

Employees who work at small businesses will earn one hour of paid time for every 40 hours worked—or one hour per typical work week. Employees at large businesses earn one hour of paid time for every 30 hours worked.

Example: 1 hour for every 40-hour work week, multiplied by 52 weeks per year is (1 x 52 = 52 / 8 hours per day) = 6.5 PSST days per year

Example: 1 hour for each 30-hour work week, multiplied by 52 weeks per year means that paid leave accrues 25% faster at large businesses versus small ones. Paid sick time adds up to roughly 8 days per year for employees at large businesses.

Spouses, domestic partners, parents, children, grandparents, and adults who are related by blood or marriage are considered to be family under the PSST law. If you need to take paid leave for more than three days in a row, your employer can ask for reasonable documentation. In that case, a doctor’s note would be sufficient.

Safe time under PSST refers to time spent dealing with situations involving one’s safety. Examples could include domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking—both on behalf of yourself or family members. The law also includes paid leave when there is a public health or safety emergency, such as an incident at a child’s school.

Employers cannot punish or fire workers for taking protected paid leave, nor can they count paid leave as an unexcused absence.  Only when an employee displays a ‘clear pattern of abuse’ (such as taking several days off without reasonable documentation) can an employer take disciplinary action.

If your employer is threatening to fire you, or not allowing you to use your paid leave, you can contact the Seattle Office of Civil Rights and file a complaint. You can also call Fair Work Center at 1-844-485-1195 for help.

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