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FAQs for Employees

How is paid sick leave accrued?

Employees earn a minimum of one hour of paid sick leave for every 40 worked within the City of Tacoma, with no limit on accrual. 

For what reasons can I use paid sick leave time under this law?

You may use your paid sick leave time for any of the following reasons:

  • Illness or injury (either yours or a family member’s)
  • When your place of employment has been closed by order of a public official or to care for a child whose schools has been closed by order of a public official
  • To seek law enforcement or legal help for domestic violence or sexual assault (either for yourself or a family member)
  • To seek safety from domestic violence, sexual assault, or stalking
  • For bereavement of a close family member


If I don’t use all of my accrued paid sick leave time in a year, will it carry over to the next calendar year?

Yes, the law allows you to carry over up to 40 hours of unused time to the following calendar year.

Does the law provide for the ability to cash out any unused paid sick leave time?

No, but employers are allowed to cash out paid sick leave at separation. 




Will the law apply to workers who are members of collective bargaining units?

Yes, the law applies to workers in collective bargaining units.

Do I qualify for paid sick leave if I work through a staffing agency?

Yes, staffing agencies are required to comply with the paid sick leave law.

I have a child in Tacoma Public School District. Can I use my paid sick leave for school closures, such as snow days or weather related late starts?

Yes, the law requires that employees be able to use their leave “to be able to care for a child whose school or place of care has been closed by order of a public official.” Because the decision to close schools for weather is made by the superintendent, this a qualified reason to use paid sick leave. Regularly scheduled closures, such as school breaks or holidays, are not covered by the Paid Sick Leave law.

My employer is giving me one hour of leave per pay period instead of for every 40 hours worked. What can I do?

There is information about the paid sick leave requirements online that you can share with your employer if you feel comfortable talking with them. You can also report a violation to be investigated.  You can also email us or call our office (253) 591-5306.

I requested paid sick leave for an issue related to domestic violence, but my employer didn’t pay for the shift I missed. Keeping my personal information confidential is necessary for my safety. If I file a complaint with the City, will my address become a public record?

State Law allows some exemptions to public records requests, including the following which may apply to you: “information revealing the identity of persons who are witnesses to or victims of a crime… if disclosure would endanger any person’s life, physical safety, or property. If at the time a complaint is filed the complainant, victim, or witness indicates a desire for disclosure or non-disclosure, such desire shall govern (RCW 42.56.240).” Be sure to inform us when you make your complaint if you think this exception might apply. Your complaint may not be completely confidential, as we may need to tell your employer who filed the charge in order to properly investigate and names must be released in order for employees to receive owed hours or wages.

I got sick while I was on vacation. Can I use my paid sick leave instead of my vacation time?

No, paid sick leave can only be used for scheduled shifts unless your employer has a more generous policy.

I don’t have health insurance. Do I need to get a doctor’s note if I stay home sick but don’t need medical treatment?

An employer may require a doctor’s note for Paid Sick Leave for absences exceeding three days as long as a written policy is provided showing the requirements. An employee should notify their employer if they feel the requirement causes an unreasonable burden or expense. The employer must make a reasonable effort to provide alternative documentation requirements which do not create an unreasonable burden (Rule 2.0). Please contact the Employment Standards Office for more information or to file a complaint.


As a restaurant worker, can I choose to trade shifts when I'm sick so I don't miss out on tips?

Yes, if you and your employer both agree to it. The law allows employers to offer policies offering employees substitute shifts so they don’t have to miss out on compensation received from tips. 

As a non-restaurant worker, can I choose to trade shifts when I’m sick so I don’t miss out on pay?

Yes, if both you and your employer agree to it. The law allows employers to establish policies offering employees the option of voluntarily trading shifts so they don’t have to use their paid sick leave time.

I work around 50 hours each week. How many of these hours count toward accruing paid sick leave?

If you are an employee who qualifies for overtime pay, then all of your hours count toward accruing paid sick leave. Salaried employees (employees who are exempt from overtime pay under FLSA) who work full-time accrue leave based on a 40-hour work week. If you are an FLSA exempt employee who works less than 40 hours per week, then you accrue leave based on the average number of hours that you typically work. For example, a part-time exempt employee who works roughly twenty hours per week would earn one hour of paid sick leave during a two-week pay period.

I am sick and can’t work my shift, but I don’t want to use my paid sick leave. Can I take unpaid time off?

The Paid Sick Leave law provides you with a right to paid time off for health and safety needs; it does not require your employer to provide unpaid time off for illness. You can ask your employer what their policy is on unpaid time off.

When can I start to use my paid sick leave?

While employees begin to accrue paid sick leave immediately, you are eligible to use your accrued hours 90 days after your start date.  


Still have questions?

More information can be found within the Tacoma Municipal Code (TMC) Chatper 18.10 and the Paid Sick Leave Rules. You can also email us or call (253) 591-5306.