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Earned Sick Leave Amendments

Tonight the Tacoma City Council is scheduled to take a final vote on paid sick leave, but they won't be doing it without offering a few amendments to the already amended ordinance.

The original ordinance required employers in town to provide their employees with paid sick leave, earned at a rate of at least one hour for every 40 worked, up to at least 24 hours in a year. Many commenters have argued that isn't enough. There have also been complaints that union-represented employees are not covered by the proposal. On the other side of the debate, there have been concerns about the impact of the mandate on businesses, particularly smaller ones.

With the first reading of the sick leave ordinance on December 16, several amendments were offered, including one that passed, which would allow for up to 24 hours of leave a year to be rolled over to the next year. And the conversation isn't over yet.

Tonight, according to The News Tribune, Councilmember Mello will offer amendments to address concerns that the proposal doesn't go far enough. One amendment would include union workers in the requirement from day one. The TNT article also suggests that we could see an amendment offered to extend the minimum number of days beyond three.

We also expect to hear more discussion from Mayor Strickland on another amendment she proposed back in December that would allow for "premium pay programs," which was held over until the final reading so her colleagues could learn more about it. We'll hope to learn more on that tonight.

Throughout the debate over this issue we've also heard that paid sick leave is something for the state or the federal government to deal with, not individual cities. Along those lines the TNT today also reports that a bill introduced in Olympia would attempt to address the issue for Washington State. That bill would establish more fine-tuned guidelines for employers to provide earned sick leave based on size, exempting companies with fewer than four employees from the requirement. Of course that bill has its detractors too, but it's worth being aware of.

Given these conversations around proposed amendments and state legislation, what are your thoughts?


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