Tacoma becomes 18th U.S. city to pass paid sick days legislation
Following the Tacoma City Council’s vote on Tuesday, Jan. 27, Tacoma becomes the 18th city in the nation – in addition to the states of Connecticut, California and Massachusetts – to pass legislation requiring all private sector employers with one or more employees to offer paid sick and safe leave. The Council voted eight to one to pass the ordinance after passionate public testimony and deliberation that carried on into the late evening.
The ordinance requires all private sector employers with one or more employees to offer up to three days of paid leave per year, accrued at a rate of 40 hours worked to one hour paid leave earned, to all employees working in Tacoma. Accrued, but unused, paid leave will be carried over so an employee can use up to five days leave in their second year of employment. The paid leave can be used in the case of employee illness, illness of a family member or for bereavement. Importantly, the legislation also includes protections for workers experiencing stalking, domestic violence and/or sexual assault, to take paid time off in order to pursue legal protection and safety planning.
Council Member Ryan Mello led efforts for a stronger policy that would include more than three days leave, and a policy that includes all workers. “I am so proud that Tacoma has made history by passing a paid sick leave policy for all working people in our city,” he said. “More families will have greater piece of mind and our public health will be that much better. This is not a perfect policy, but it is a significant step in the right direction and I am committed to improving this over the coming year.”
Following an amendment made by Mello, all workers, including those subject to collective bargaining agreements, will be covered under the ordinance. Rulemaking will begin shortly and the ordinance will go into effect on Feb. 1, 2016.
On the impact of a paid sick leave policy in Tacoma, Mello said, “This is a key strategy to grow our economy from the middle out, not trickle down, and to help those most vulnerable in our economy or community.”
Tacoma is the first city in the nation to pass a paid sick days policy after President Barack Obama urged support of the issue in his 2015 State of the Union address.