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Washington Paid Sick Leave Construction Worker Definition Clarified by Legislature

16 Apr

Update Applicable to:Effective date
All Washington State employers who are classified with NAICS Code 23.Immediately

What happened?

On March 13, 2024, with immediate effect, Governor Inslee signed legislation that the legislature passed aimed to make a statutory update on Washington Paid Sick Leave (WPSL), intended to reject the overbroad definition of “Construction Workers” that the Department of Labor & Industries (DLI) had adopted at the end of 2023. 

What are the details? 

As Vensure previously informed, from January 1, 2024, WPSL mandates employers to pay all unused paid sick leave to commercial construction workers upon their departure, regardless of their employment duration

However, effective March 13, the rule now only applies to those fitting the specific definition of a Construction Worker, rather than all employees of non-residential construction employers in Washington. A comparison chart of the old and new definitions is provided below: 

Previous DefinitionAmended Definition
(A) “Construction worker” is any nonexempt employee covered under the 2022 North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) industry code 23, except for those employees who perform only work described in NAICS 2361, residential building construction. This includes employees who work for an employer who perform construction-related work as described in NAICS 23, but are not directly engaged in the construction work itself, such as nonexempt administrative staff.(A) “Construction worker” means a worker who performed service, maintenance, or construction work on a jobsite, in the field, or in a fabrication shop using the tools of the worker’s trade or craft.

To sum up, under the revised law, only those construction workers who are actively involved in construction tasks, whether it be service, maintenance, or construction work at a job site, in the field, or a fabrication shop using their trade or craft tools, are entitled to receive paid sick and safe leave benefits upon termination of service. Furthermore, the law for paid sick leave in Washington does not extend to commercial construction workers who are actively involved in construction and are part of specific collective bargaining agreements.

Business Considerations 

  • Update your PSL policies and practices to incorporate the new payout requirements if the employee leaves employment before 90 days, and to make sure that the payout is at the correct amount
  • Ensure your records include documentation of the start and end dates of their employment, as well as the amount paid to the employee. 
  • It is important for you to stay informed about any updates or changes to this law. Vensure will update employers if necessary.


Source References

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This communication is intended solely for the purpose of conveying information. The present post might incorporate hyperlinks directing readers to websites managed by third-party entities. The inclusion of any links within this communication is meant to serve as points of reference and could encompass opinion articles from various law firms, articles from HR associations, official websites, news releases, and documents of government agencies, and other relevant third-party sources. Vensure has no authority over these external websites and bears no responsibility for their content. Furthermore, Vensure does not endorse the materials present on these websites. The contents of this communication should not be interpreted as legal advice or as a legal standpoint concerning specific facts or scenarios. Nor should it be deemed an exhaustive compilation of facts potentially pertinent to federal, state, or local laws. It is strongly advised that employers solicit legal guidance from an employment attorney when undertaking actions in response to any legal updates provided. This is due to the possibility of future alterations occurring in federal, state, and local laws, regulations, as well as the directives and guidelines issued by governing agencies. These changes may transpire at any given time, potentially rendering certain portions of the content within this update void or inaccurate.

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