Implementing Earned Sick Days Laws: Learning from Seattle's Experience

Feb 27, 2013

By Liz Ben-Ishai

Advocates in Seattle fought hard to build the support necessary to pass the city’s Paid Sick and Safe Time (PSST) Ordinance. But the hard work did not end when the law passed in September 2011. Once the ink on Seattle’s ordinance had dried, the process of implementing the law began. 

The task of implementation in Seattle fell to the city’s Office for Civil Rights (SOCR). SOCR’s small but energetic staff has approached the complex job with a drive that not only reflects a commitment to ensuring that the law protects the rights of Seattle’s workers, but also a desire to listen carefully to business concerns about the law. The city has launched a thoughtful and creative implementation and outreach strategy that has been attentive to business needs, spread the word about the law to diverse groups of Seattle workers and employers, and provided an unparalleled level of technical assistance to employers seeking to comply with the law.

Elliott Bronstein, SOCR’s Public Information Coordinator, explains, “The thing that I’m proudest of is our work with employers to answer their questions, to make this as intelligible to them as possible, and to listen closely to their concerns during the rule drafting process.” By taking a constructive approach, Seattle has brought employers on board, helping to ensure that employees are receiving the paid sick and safe time they have earned.

CLASP spoke with SOCR staff to better understand the implementation process. Today, CLASP is releasing an issue brief that draws upon Seattle’s experience to delineate best practices for implementing such laws. It is the first in a series of implementation briefs that draw on the experiences of jurisdictions that have passed earned sick days laws. Watch for additional briefs in the coming weeks, as well as a summary of best practices from all jurisdictions.

Momentum for earned sick days laws is building around the country, with active campaigns in several cities and states. As more sick days laws pass, more governments will face the challenging task of implementing these laws. Those facing this task have much to learn from Seattle’s implementation work.

Read the brief >>

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