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Labor Day Marks Six-Years of Seattle’s Paid Sick and Safe Time Ordinance with More Than $500,000 in Assessed Remedies and Penalties

Bright Horizons agreed to a settlement providing workers more than 1,000 PSST accrual hours and over $50,000 in backpay and other remedies

Seattle – (August 31, 2018) – On September 1, 2018, Seattle’s Paid Sick and Safe Time (PSST) Ordinance will mark its six-year anniversary. Over the past six years, the Seattle Office of Labor Standards (OLS) has resolved 228 PSST cases affecting an estimated 2,340 workers and resulting in assessments totaling more than $532,000.

Seattle’s PSST ordinance requires employers operating in Seattle to provide all employees with paid leave to attend medical appointments, or to care for themselves or a family member with a physical or mental health condition, or a critical safety issue. Since the execution of the ordinance, Washington State voters have extended paid sick and safe time to workers across the state with the passage of Initiative 1433, in 2016.

“In Seattle, we have a proud history of protecting workers and fighting for fair wages and workers’ rights,” said Mayor Jenny Durkan. “Workers should never have to choose between taking time-off to care for themselves or a loved one and losing a day’s wages – or worse – losing their job. Seattle has led the way on some of the most important improvements in worker standards in recent history. Labor Day is the perfect day to celebrate the success of our Paid Sick and Safe Time law.”

One recent settlement highlights the importance of PSST in businesses that provide services to vulnerable populations. Bright Horizons, a worldwide child care, early education, and in-home care service provider, operates nine locations in Seattle. The company agreed to pay more than $50,000, provide over 1000 PSST accrual hours to 159 of its substitute teachers and caregivers, and to modify its policies to ensure compliance with PSST.

A current Bright Horizons employee (requesting anonymity), who received 30 hours of accrued PSST time and more than $700 in backpay under the settlement, commented, “When I first started working for Bright Horizons, and with children, I got sick a lot, and the financial burden was severe and stressful. I work with a large number of immigrant women of color, we get paid low wages and if we get sick it’s a big deal. Without Paid Sick and Safe Time we are incentivized to go to work sick and spread our illness when we should be in bed resting.”

“We are glad to offer our nearly 1,000 employees throughout the Seattle-area some of the best workplace benefits in our field and to have always been in compliance of all employment laws set forth by the city,” said Maribeth Bearfield, Bright Horizons Chief Human Resources Officer. “We are pleased to have cleared up this matter that resulted from a misunderstanding as it concerns a small portion of employees who only work in the city on an occasional basis.”

Rachel Lauter, Executive Director of Fair Work Center and Working Washington adds, “All workers should be able to take a sick day when they are sick, especially those caring for vulnerable populations, like child care providers, nannies, and other caregivers. Getting sick shouldn’t mean a low-wage worker has to worry about putting food on the table or making rent.”

To learn more about the PSST Ordinance, please visit our Paid Sick and Safe Time webpage. For more information on case resolutions, visit our Investigations page located on the OLS website.