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25 Feb

February 2021 Washington HR Legal Updates

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Seattle City Council Passes Hero Pay Ordinance

Update Applicable to:
Employers operating within the City of Seattle.

What happened?
On January 25, 2021, the Seattle City Council unanimously passed an ordinance requiring hazard pay for certain grocery business employees during the COVID-19 pandemic.

What are the details?
Much like the cities of California, Seattle has seen it fit to increase compensation to their grocery store workers for the risk they take when working with the public during a pandemic. The ordinance applies only to grocery businesses in Seattle that employ 500 or more employees worldwide regardless of where those employees are employed. A grocery business is defined as a retail store in Seattle that is either of the following: 

  • Over 10,000 square feet and primarily engaged in retailing groceries for offsite consumption; or 
  • Over 85,000 square feet with at least 30% or more of its sales floor area dedicated to the sale of groceries.

Any worker who performs work at a retail location of a grocery business in Seattle and who meets the definition of “employee” under Seattle Municipal Code Section 12A.28.200 must receive hazard pay.  These are any employees who are not employed in a bona fide executive, administrative, professional, or outside sales capacity.  Covered employees include, but are not limited to, full-time employees, part-time employees, and temporary workers. In addition to their regular compensation, the ordinance requires covered employees to receive $4 per hour in hazard pay for each hour worked in Seattle.  Employers are prohibited from reducing employee compensation to prevent employees from receiving the additional $4 per hour in required hazard pay.

Within 30 days of the ordinance’s effective date, employers must display a written notice of rights under the ordinance in a conspicuous and accessible place at any workplace or jobsite where any of their employees work.  The notice must be in English and the primary language(s) of the employees at the workplace. The notice must provide information regarding (1) the right to hazard pay guaranteed under the ordinance; (2) the right to be protected from retaliation for exercising in good faith the rights protected by the ordinance; and (3) the right to file a complaint with the Seattle Office of Labor Standards or bring a civil action for ordinance violations.

You can read more about the ordinance here.

What do employers need to do?
Applicable Seattle employers should update their payroll policies to accommodate this temporary ordinance, and work with onsite managers to ensure the posting requirement is met.


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