Washington State Department of Labor & Industries
7273 Linderson Way SW
Tumwater, WA 98501
RE: I-1433 Draft Proposed Rules Edits (Prior to CR-102 Filing)
Ladies and Gentlemen:
The ERISA Industry Committee (“ERIC”) is pleased to submit comments on Washington State’s Department of Labor and Industries’ edits for its proposed rules on Initiative 1433 (“Proposed Edited Rules”) regarding paid sick leave.
ERIC’S INTEREST IN THE RULEMAKING
ERIC is the only national association that advocates exclusively for large employers on health, retirement, and compensation public policies at the federal, state, and local levels. ERIC members are the largest employers in the country, employing tens of thousands of workers in states across the country. They are leaders in every sector of the economy and innovators in designing and implementing employee benefits that are tailored to their unique workforce and industry. ERIC’s members provide comprehensive paid leave programs that benefit tens of millions of workers and their families. ERIC has a strong interest in proposals that would affect its members’ ability to provide quality and uniform paid sick leave benefits to employees living and working across the country.
ERIC members already provide paid sick leave benefits, including paid time off (PTO) programs, to their employees. We are concerned, however, about rules and regulations, such as the Proposed Edited Rules, that impose unnecessary and burdensome requirements on employers already offering these benefits. Large employers should have the flexibility to design their own paid sick leave benefit programs that meet the needs of their business and individual workforce, while still satisfying the intent of Washington’s laws. ERIC member companies do not utilize a one-size-fits- all model for paid sick leave and should not be subject to such a model under the Proposed Edited Rules.
ERIC’S COMMENT ON CARRYOVER
The Proposed Edited Rules require employers to allow employees to carry over, at minimum, forty hours of accrued but unused leave from one benefit year to the next. Despite the statutory mandate,ERIC believes there is still room for employer flexibility while still ensuring that Washingtonians are guaranteed adequate paid sick leave. This can be achieved by adopting new regulations that mandate carryover only in instances where the employer does not frontload the paid sick leave. Mandating carryover of leave is intended to ensure that employees do not start the benefit year without paid sick leave. Frontloading paid sick leave at the beginning of the year makes the issue of carryover moot and eliminates needless complication and administrative tracking of sick time.
The Proposed Edited Rules already provide that employers may, but are not mandated to, frontload all available paid sick leave that an employee would foreseeably accrue over a benefit year. Frontloading is more beneficial to employees than accruing sick leave over the course of the year and should be encouraged by providing that carryover is not required in such instances. Washingtonians decided they wanted a paid sick leave law that provided for both frontloading and the carryover of unused leave, but not when one negates the need for the other. When employers frontload leave, they do so without allowing for carryover; thereby creating a “use-it-or-lose-it” policy. This type of policy allows employees to use leave on an as-needed basis. This system creates a great benefit to the employee, without imposing any unnecessary burdens on the employer. Requiring employers to carry over employees unused leave when they already frontload all available leave would only create an undue administrative burden on employers with no added benefit being conferred on the employee.
When large, multistate employers, are forced to carryover employees’ unused leave, it impacts the total leave package the employer provides. Paid sick leave is regularly contemplated alongside short and long-term disability programs; thus, a change in one is a change in all three. Further, a mandate to carry over unused paid sick leave is in direct contradiction to paid sick leave mandates in other political subdivisions, including large municipalities, such as Seattle. Seattle recognized the importance of providing flexibility in designing paid sick leave policies while ensuring the underlying intent of the law is satisfied, and so should the state.
ERIC’S COMMENTS ON PAID TIME OFF (PTO) PROGRAMS
ERIC appreciates that the Proposed Edited Rules have been amended to strike the term “universal” from the rules on PTO programs, and thereby allowing programs that combine any number and any form of leave into one pool to be eligible under the rules.
That being said, ERIC requests that should the Proposed Edited Rules be amended to account for employers being able to frontload leave without carryover—as discussed above—then the rules for PTO programs be amended accordingly to reflect such changes.
ERIC appreciates the opportunity to provide comments on the Proposed Edited Rules. We understand Washington’s goal of providing paid sick leave benefits to its workers, and seek only to ensure clarity of the Proposed Rules and consistent, uniform application of them.
If you have any questions concerning this letter, or if we can be of further assistance, please contact me at bhum@ERIC.org or 202-789-1400.
Associate, Retirement & Compensation Policy