Spokane Earned Sick and Safe Leave Ordinance: PSL-4Step Analysis

In January 2016, the City Council of Spokane, Washington overrode the mayor’s veto to enact the Earned Sick and Safe Leave Ordinance. Ten months later, in November 2016, Washington State voters approved Initiative 1433, which requires employers statewide to provide paid sick leave. In response to I-1433, the City Council of Spokane amended its ordinance to have it “sunset” upon I-1433’s implementation. Here, I use the PSL-4Step framework to analyze the Spokane ordinance.

Step 1: Does it apply?

Effective Date: The Earned Sick and Safe Leave Ordinance (referred to in this blog as PSL) is effective January 1, 2017 and will “sunset” on December 31, 2017 unless the implementation of Initiative 1433 has been delayed beyond January 1, 2018. If there is a delay in I-1433’s implementation, the Spokane PSL will continue until I-1433 becomes effective.

Any business that received its first registration after the Spokane ordinance was enacted (January 11, 2016) but before January 1, 2017 shall not be subject to the ordinance for a period of one year from the date of the first business registration.

Employer Definition: “Employer” includes every type of business entity or any “person or group of persons” acting in the interest of an employer, having a permanent location in the City of Spokane, and having at least one employee who performs more than 240 hours of work in the City of Spokane. “Employer” does not include federal, state, county or local government employees; any business owned and operated by one person (or one person and his or her spouse) with zero employees; and any federally recognized Indian tribe.

Employee Definition: “Employee” means any person who performs work in the City of Spokane for compensation including part time employees, but does not include occasional employees (those who work fewer than 240 hours per year within Spokane), seasonal (“term of employment expected to last less than one year and which is intermittent or recurs annually”), domestic workers, work-study students, those engaged in “construction work,” and employees who are immediate family members of business owners, or independent contractors. Continue reading

PSL Gets Sunset Fix from Spokane

Spokane, Washington passed its Earned Sick and Safe Leave ordinance early in 2016, to be effective January 1, 2017. A few weeks ago, voters in the State of Washington approved Initiative 1433 (I-1433), which will provide PSL statewide, effective January 1, 2018.  Naturally, the local and state PSL laws differ. For example, the Spokane ordinance accrual rate is 1/30 while the I-1433 accrual rate is 1/40.

What was Spokane to do?  Add to the patchwork by having Spokane employers subject to both the local and state laws, providing employees the best of each? Or repeal the Spokane ordinance and have employers comply with the state law in 2018?

The Spokane City Council took a middle road.  On November 14, 2016, the Council decided to allow the Spokane ordinance to go into effect on January 1, 2017, as planned, and added a section stating that the ordinance will “sunset,” be of no legal effect, on the latter of December 31, 2017 or the implementation of 1-1433.  The open-ended implementation date for 1-1433 is to recognize the possibility that if a legal challenge were made to I-1433, its implementation date could be delayed beyond January 1, 2018, in which case the Spokane law would continue until the implementation date.

Photo by Mike Soltis

Kudos to the Spokane Council for adding the sunset clause. With that clause, common sense has seeped into the PSL patchwork. Now if other local jurisdictions in states with PSL laws would follow suit, we would have a less patchy patchwork!

Next week, we will do the PSL-4Step analysis on the Spokane Earned Sick and Safe Leave ordinance.