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Seattle’s Paid Sick and Safe Time Ordinance is Here to Stay – Tips on how to be compliant

October 29, 2014 by Jennifer Olsen
 
Jennifer Olsen

It’s been almost two years since Seattle’s paid sick and safe time ordinance (PSST) has passed. Since then it has received both good and bad reviews by policy makers, business owners and employees. As part of the ordinance the City of Seattle asked the Office of the City Auditor and the University of Washington to conduct a study to examine whether employers were knowledgeable about the ordinance, whether they were implementing it and if so how was it affecting their organization.

At a glance, survey results include:

  • The majority of employers are offering some paid leave to full and part time employees.
  • Nearly 40% of employers report that they either do not cover part and full time workers or fail to provide the minimum required hours of leave to their full time workers (hours of leave provided to part time workers were not tracked).
  • Costs to employers and impact on businesses have been modest and smaller than anticipated.
  • Workers view the ordinance as helpful and as a ‘safety net’ so they can take care of themselves and their families.

It is interesting to note that even though the majority of employers are offering some paid leave, it does not mean they are in compliance with the ordinance. And while the ordinance has both its advocates and detractors, PSST is not going away for the near term. So now is the time if you haven’t already to review your organization’s PSST policy and ensure it is compliant.
Here are some key questions you can ask yourself to determine if you are implementing this policy correctly at your organization:

  • Are you keeping accurate records of PSST hours and storing them correctly? For instance, if an employee quits and has unused PSST, you are required to hold on to that person’s records because if he/she returns within seven months they are entitled to those hours.
  • Do you have a company headquartered outside Seattle but have employees doing business in Seattle? You are required to be compliant with the PSST ordinance. You can find more information and guidelines here. http://springboard.resourcefulhr.com/the-occasional-basis-worker-under-seattles-paid-sick-and-safe-time-benefit-ordinance-obligations-for-companies-based-outside-of-seattle/
  • Do you have paid interns? They are covered.
  • Do you employ independent contractors? Independent contractors are not covered. If you have questions regarding the classification of an employee versus independent contractor, you can purchase our resource guide here.
  • Do you have a policy in place regarding PSST so that employees know what is expected of them and how they will receive information about this ordinance? For example, do employees know in what instances it is appropriate to use PSST and when they cannot? Do employees know they can not ask HR or whomever is keeping records for an update on their accrued hours whenever they want and that it will be shared with them on each pay stub.

If you have questions about what is required to be compliant and how to write a policy for your organization, send us an email.
You can view the Office of the City Auditor and University of Washington report in its entirety here.

The “Occasional Basis Worker” Under Seattle’s Paid Sick and Safe Time Benefit Ordinance – Obligations for Companies Based Outside of Seattle

October 14, 2014 by Amy Gaskill
 
Amy Gaskill

Seattle’s paid sick and safe time benefit (PSST) went into effect on September 1, 2012. It may seem like eons ago considering all that you are working on but it may be something that has slipped off your radar due to your full plate. Or maybe your company is growing and is sending workers into the city for the first time since the ordinance took effect. This is the important element to consider: Even if your headquarters are outside of Seattle but have employees that travel to Seattle for client work you are still mandated to adhere to the Seattle PSST ordinance. The Seattle Office of Civil Rights requires that “Occasional Basis Workers” must accrue PSST after working 240 paid hours within the city limits. The amount of accrual varies and we can help you design a policy that works for your organization – more details and resources below.

Quick tips and several resources to help manage this process:

  • An “Occasional Basis Worker” is defined as one who works primarily outside the City of Seattle, but who works inside the city limits on an ad hoc, irregular basis.
  • Companies must track hours worked in Seattle for all workers. (See the exception for qualifying PTO programs, below.)
  • Accrual time starts the minute your employee arrives in the Seattle City limits from the time they leave, except when the employee is just driving through. This means that even if there is a traffic jam on the way to the meeting downtown, they must accrue PSST hours.
  • Accrual of PSST hours begins on the 241st hour of work within the Seattle City Limits. Employees must be allowed to use accrued PSST hours no later than 180 days from the day they begin accruing.
  • There are different accrual rates based on whether you are tier one, two or three company. This is a great place to learn more information: http://www.seattle.gov/civilrights/spssto.htm
  • If your company offers Paid Time Off (PTO) program that allows employees to use the benefit hours for issues that would qualify for PSST, and the accrual rate meets the minimum requirements under the PSST, tracking hours worked within the city limits is not required. However, all other requirements of the PSST (such as qualifying events and minimum usage requirements) must be met within your existing policy.
  • Commission-only and piece rate workers must also track their hours worked within the city, and must be compensated at least at minimum wage for PSST hours used.

For even more information check out: http://equinoxbusinesslaw.com/?s=paid+sick+and+safe+time

Do you have questions regarding this ordinance? – how to write a compliant policy, how to track it, how to apply it – let us know! We also look forward to hearing your tips on how you are tracking hours and remaining compliant. Let us know in the comments below.

Planning your budget? – Create Your Compensation Strategy Now

September 19, 2014 by Melissa Quade
 
Melissa Quade

Now is a great time to start planning for your yearly strategic budgeting meetings. And since employee compensation is often the largest line item in a budget, it will pay big dividends to think through your compensation structure and get the data you need to make informed budgeting decisions, and to back up your budget requests.

Here are some compensation budgeting tips to get you started:

  • Know where you are in the marketplace when it comes to compensation. Now is a good time to focus on collecting the data you require as you prepare for first of the year/end of the year performance reviews. The market has moved a lot in the past two years, and some positions – especially tech positions – are still continuing to outpace the general market. If you think the 3% across the board average applies to your Software Developer, or your QA Engineer, you may want to do some research with more current salary data.
  • Always ask for more than you think you’ll need. It’s always better to have some extra budget to work with, or to use for the unexpected raise request that may be well-deserved, than to come up short.
  • Be strategic with pay increases. Are you giving people increases just for keeping a seat warm (i.e. cost of living adjustments)? Or are you being more strategic with your available dollars and linking pay to performance and results? If your CFO gives you a 3% budget increase for base salaries, are you going to give everyone a 3% raise? What do you think that does to your top performers, when they see Lazy Len getting the same increase they got? Why not give Rockstar Rudy a 5% raise and Lazy Len a 1% raise? If you’re afraid of having the ensuing conversation, then you likely don’t have the right performance management process in place, or you may need some new tools in your management toolbox for having difficult conversations. Either of these we can help with.
  • Better results should result in better rewards, whether that’s cash or some other form of reward that is more meaningful to that employee. Find out what motivates your staff and leverage it to the company’s benefit, creating a win-win possibility.

Having a consultant in your pocket to help with providing expert guidance and data can be very helpful in making informed decisions. A good one can also work as your ally to provide objective recommendations and supportive data to your company leadership.

More Resources

For more tips and information regarding creating a successful compensation structure including, how to have good conversations about compensation, how to use performance reviews effectively, and how paying the right wage can create a successful business check out these latest blog posts:

Compensation Conversations: How to make them better for your managers and employees.
Thanks to the Internet and social media, employees and potential candidates have access to salary information. How do you make sure that your employees feel fairly compensated? It turns out that paying more money isn’t the only answer. Learn more!

Do Ratings Help or Hinder Performance?
Grading on the curve may have worked for high school and college students, but is it really appropriate to use in evaluating employees? Microsoft recently abandoned their bell-curve-based rating system. Companies need some way to measure and reward performance, so what’s the solution? Learn more!

A Pay for Performance Perspective and Tips
When you give out pay raises, are you giving your worst performers the same raise as the guy or gal who brings in three times as much revenue? Many organizations tend to give across-the-board raises of about the same percentage to all employees. Which means the poor performers have no incentive to work harder, and the top producers have plenty of incentive to find a job with another company that rewards them better. How can you use pay incentives to create a successful business? Learn more!