Only 60% of employees in Seattle currently have any paid sick leave. The remainder must choose between going to work sick or loosing income or even their job. Caretakers for the elderly are often among those who have no paid sick days, putting their patients at risk.
The current proposal calls for businesses to provide paid leave. The amount of leave required depends on the size of business and ranges from five days for businesses with less than 50 employees to one hour for every 15 hours worked for employers with more than 1000 employees. The proposal allows employees to choose shift switch programs instead of leave and allow for more generous paid leave policies that allow employees to use the leave for either sickness or vacation.
Leave could be used for the employee's own illness, injury, diagnosis, treatment or preventative care; for the heath needs of a child, spouse, domestic partner, parent, parent-in-law, or grandparent; to deal with the consequences of domestic abuse, sexual assault, or stalking; or the the place of business or a child's school is closed for a public health emergency. At Phinney Estate Law we have seen the bind that adult children can find themselves in when a parent has a health crisis and they have no leave to respond. We appreciate that the proposal recognizes the increasing need as the working population ages of workers to take care of spouses and elders in crisis.
In addition to being impressed by the flexibility and inclusion of the proposal we are pleased by the story of how the proposal came together. Unlike other jurisdictions that have adopted similar proposals after nasty political battles between health care activists and business leaders, in Seattle small businesses and health care advocates worked together to collaborate on a proposal that would address three agreed upon principals:
(1) We all benefit when people do not come to work sick, (2) No one should loose their job or income because they are sick, and (3) We all benefit from the success of local, vibrant small businesses in our city. The final proposal has more wide spread support and contains greater flexibility with wider coverage that other proposals. We think it is a great example of how a collaborative approach to conflict can result in an solution better than the result either party would have achieved "winning" a traditional fight.
To learn more about the proposal and the unique process that lead to it, check out the Coalition's website. Phinney Estate Law is proud to be part of the coalition and encourages clients to learn more.