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Tacoma Mayor introducing paid sick leave ordinance

By Mark Johnson, VP Government Affairs

Tacoma Mayor Marilyn Strickland met with business representatives this week to share details of a potential ordinance requiring Tacoma businesses to provide employees with paid sick leave.  Though Mayor Strickland said she would prefer that the state or federal government address the issue, she felt it would take too long. With Seattle adopting a paid sick leave ordinance, Strickland said she wanted to keep pace with developments regarding the issue.

The Mayor is currently having the ordinance drafted and it should be available for review in a few weeks.

Key components include:

*Three days of paid sick leave per year after enough hours have been worked.  For example, for every 40 hours worked an employee would earn 1 hour of sick leave.

*When businesses obtained or renewed their Tacoma business licenses, they would likely have to provide proof of their leave policy in an employee’s manual, for example.

*The ordinance would not apply to collective bargaining agreements or businesses that already provide 3 or more days of paid sick leave.  Businesses that provide “shift” swapping would also receive special consideration.

*The ordinance would apply to all businesses and non-profits regardless of size.  Businesses not based in Tacoma whose employees visit Tacoma in their jobs would not be subject to the ordinance.  Enforcement of the ordinance would be in response to employee complaints.

Mayor Strickland is hoping to submit and pass an ordinance by the end of 2014.  The start or implementation date has not been decided; maybe in 2015 or later.

It is unknown how many Tacoma businesses provide paid sick leave.  Business stakeholders suggested adding provisions to allow a company to fix inadvertent mistakes before enforcement took place.  Also, businesses want an economic impact study to be done before and after the ordinance goes into place.

The mayor welcomes comments and will be shopping the whole proposal once it is drafted.  She can be reached at:  marilyn.strickland@cityoftacoma.org.

WRA has committed to share the draft with members and provide suggestions to the mayor.  Please watch for future updates in this newsletter and on the WRA website, www.retailassociation.org.

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