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Lawmakers Hear Bills To Repeal Seattle Paid Sick Leave Law

Flickr Photo/ghindo

Business groups who opposed Seattle’s paid sick leave law are hoping for a do-over in Olympia. Today the Senate Commerce and Labor Committee will hear two bills to repeal the controversial ordinance.

One proposal would prohibit local governments from making sick leave laws. Only the state has the authority to do that. Under the second bill, a city may not impose its own regulation on businesses based outside the city’s jurisdiction.

George Allen is senior vice president of government relations for the Seattle Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce.  The chamber opposes the Seattle ordinance. Allen says soon after the law took effect in September the chamber surveyed its members. It found that the law produced some unintended consequences for businesses.

“Employee benefits were diminished in one regard to help pay for the paid sick leave,” said Allen. “We also found that between $40,000 and $60,000 had to be expended to move your human resource tracking over to a new system. We found that some of the costs for this benefit applied not only to Seattle employers, but to employers outside of Seattle that brought employees into town to do business.”

Seattle’s paid sick leave ordinance affects businesses with at least five employees. Under the law, employers must provide at least five paid sick days a year. The law also applies to out-of-town businesses. They’re required to offer paid sick leave if the employee works more than 240 hours per year in Seattle.

Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn has said he would oppose any changes to the ordinance.
If the Legislature succeeds in repealing the law, it would follow Wisconsin. In 2011, lawmakers there repealed Milwaukee’s sick leave regulation.

Year started with KUOW: 1994