Monday, February 2, 2015

Tacoma Council Adopts Mandatory Paid Leave

On Tuesday, January 27th, after a marathon council meeting lasting nearly six hours and including 35 pages of amendments, Tacoma’s City Council passed (8-1) an ordinance requiring all businesses operating within the City to provide a minimum of 3 days of paid time off to employees beginning February 1st, 2016.  

Early versions of an ordinance brought forward by paid leave proponents suggested businesses be responsible for providing employees with up to 14 days of paid time off.  The Chamber made it clear that new mandates will make it harder for businesses to meet their employees’ actual needs rather than those thought up by others.  Furthermore, if the Council is truly focused on employees, it must minimize expensive tracking and regulatory burdens to ensure limited funds are actually spent on providing benefits rather than administration.

Thankfully, enough of the Council heard these concerns to streamline the tracking and incorporate flexibility.  The 3-day ordinance passed by Council also allows for employers and employees with unique needs options like on-call pay programs, shift swapping, minimum hours worked, and front loaded benefits.

While this phase of the paid leave discussion has wrapped up, we are preparing for the next round.  Unusual for Tacoma, the Council has decided to implement a rule making process after passing the Ordinance meaning there are numerous questions about the details.  Once these rules are published, we will be hosting sessions to get businesses up to speed.  At a minimum, all businesses should plan on reviewing their personnel policies and handbooks to ensure they meet the allowable usage requirements in the ordinance.

Previously, the Chamber has shared status updates on this issue.  We will continue to provide updates as we can.

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