SPOKANE (Jan. 12, 2016) — After hearing hours of mostly supportive public comments, the Spokane City Council voted 6-1 late Monday night to approve a new city ordinance that guarantee that all workers in the city have the opportunity to earn at least three to five paid sick leave days per year. Although Mayor David Condon has said he plans to veto the ordinance, only five votes are needed to override him and enact the policy.
Under the ordinance, all workers — except construction and some seasonal/temporary workers — will earn at least one hour of sick and safe leave for every 30 hours they work until they reach 24 hours, or three 8-hour days per year. For businesses with 10 or more employees, the minimum would be 40 hours or five days per year. The paid leave could be used for sickness, to care for sick family members, bereavement, or to deal with a domestic violence situation.
The Spokane Alliance, which supported the sick leave ordinance, reports that a comprehensive survey found 87% of Spokane residents agreed that “working people who are sick or have sick children should be able to take paid sick days.” A 2015 national survey found “88 percent of voters say they want all workers to be able to earn paid sick days” to care for themselves and their family members.
Also on Monday, a coalition filed a statewide initiative to raise the minimum wage and ensure that all workers across the state can earn 7 days paid sick and safe leave -‐ earning 1 hour for every 40 hours worked — so that workers can take care of themselves and their family when sick without fear of being fired or losing a day’s wage. If approved it qualifies for the ballot and is approved by voters this fall, cities would retain the ability to enact labor standard policies, such as city minimum wages and paid sick leave ordinances, that exceed the statewide minimums.
An estimated 1 million workers in Washington state, including more than 41,000 in Spokane, get no paid leave when they are sick.
Seattle has already approved a paid sick leave ordinance that allows all workers in that city to earn from five to nine paid sick days per year, depending on the size of the company. A University of Washington survey of Seattle businesses a year after it took effect found that costs to employers and impact on businesses have been modest and smaller than anticipated. Fully 70 percent of business owners supported the ordinance and small businesses were more likely to be in full compliance than big corporations.
► In today’s Spokesman-Review — Employers required to give workers up to 5 paid sick days by Spokane City Council — Most workers in Spokane will get three or five paid sick days under legislation approved by the Spokane City Council Monday night. “It is an accepted value,” said Spokane Council President Ben Stuckart. “We just need to codify it.”
► From Think Progress — The first city to guarantee paid sick leave in 2016 — Ahead of tonight’s State of the Union address, Spokane, Washington passed a law guaranteeing residents the right to paid sick leave when they or their family members fall sick, or to deal with sexual assault and domestic abuse.