Last week we posted a reminder that the Tacoma City Council would be considering whether or not to require businesses operating within city limits to provide a minimum amount of paid leave to all employees. Well, it took a marathon Tacoma City Council Meeting (3 hours & 59 minutes exactly), where the Council heard from about 40 members of the public on the issue of paid leave. The vast majority of the speakers supported Mayor Strickland's move forward on this ordinance, but nearly everyone was interested in some modification of the proposal. Suggestions ranged from making the program voluntary to increasing the mandate to more than 2 weeks of paid time off.
When it came time for councilmembers to share their thoughts, they too had widely differing opinions on the issue. In the end, there seemed to be consensus among councilmembers that a required paid leave policy for businesses is better suited to state or federal government implementation, thus minimizing issues of borders, competitive disadvantages between cities, and vastly differing rules within a region.
Both Mayor Strickland and Councilmember Mello had proposed amendments to the ordinance. The amendments and votes were as follows [Councilmember Boe had to leave before the amendments could be voted on]:
- Councilmember Mello: Requiring public hearing on rules proposed to implement ordinance [passed 8-0]
- Councilmember Mello: Requiring businesses to rollover up to 56 hours of leave from year to year [failed 3-5; Ayes: Ibsen, Mello, Woodards]
- Mayor Strickland: Giving businesses the option to front load hours rather than accruing based on hours worked [passed 8-0]
- Mayor Strickland: Requiring businesses to rollover up to 24 hours of leave from year to year [passed 6-0; Ayes: Strickland, Campbell, Lonergan, Thoms, Walker, Woodards]
- Mayor Strickland: Adding clarifying language that businesses have the option to provide more leave at their discretion [passed 8-0]
- Mayor Strickland proposed an amendment for a premium pay option, but this was tabled since a hard copy of the amendment was not available. It will likely return at final reading.
As we look at where this leaves the ordinance, they added flexibility for businesses to provide employees a lump sum of paid leave [good] but now require businesses to rollover hours, complicating the tracking [bad]. There are some other minor changes along the way, but the final reading will likely shake things up some more. Final reading of the ordinance will be on January 27th at 5PM. If you can't attend, we encourage you to share your thoughts with us and your councilmembers directly. Councilmembers' emails and phone numbers can be found at: http://www.cityoftacoma.org/government/city_council
If you are interested in learning more about this ordinance, please contact our office at 253.627.2175. The full text of the amended ordinance can be downloaded here.