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A new statewide leave law that has taken many employers by surprise

In November 2016, Washington voters passed Initiative 1433, best known for increasing Washington’s minimum wage to one of the highest in the nation. However, I-1433 also included a requirement for statewide paid sick leave (“PSL”) for non-exempt employees that has caught many employers by surprise.

The PSL law becomes effective on January 1, 2018, and the Department of Labor and Industries (“L&I”) just published final administrative rules about the law’s requirements. All Washington employers need to review these requirements and take action to ensure compliance.

On Monday, July 25, 2016, the Seattle City Council unanimously voted to place Initiative 124 (“I-124”), entitled the “Seattle Hotel Employees Health and Safety Initiative,” on the November 2016 ballot. Many voters will likely not even bother to look beyond the title before casting their vote. But they should. There is much more to this initiative than the title suggests.

I-124 is comprised of five substantive parts, plus definitions and a “miscellaneous” section (containing perhaps the most important piece of the entire initiative – more on that in the following paragraph). Each of these parts has an admirable statement of purpose (e.g., “Protecting Hotel Employees from Violent Assault and Sexual Harassment”), and a slew of requirements that are allegedly aimed at achieving that purpose. But, as with the title of the entire initiative, each part contains language that prompts countervailing concerns.

Nancy Cooper, current chair of the firm's Labor and Employment Group, discusses the importance of documentation when managing employees.

Managing a business is hard.  Managing a hospitality business is even harder.  You try to have your employees understand that top notch customer service is the be all and end all of your business.  They are your reputation.  They are your “face.”  But, there is always that one employee…

Reality shows that use mystery diners or guests to demonstrate how the bad employee can drag down the entire business may be entertaining for the public, but are nightmares for hospitality managers.  It is easy to do the immediate firing when the mystery diners have the bad behavior on film, but that rarely happens in the real world.  So, how do you manage the employee who is causing you endless headaches?  Set expectations, respond consistently and document your efforts to change the bad behavior.

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Greg Duff, Editor
Greg Duff founded and chairs GSB’s national Hospitality, Travel & Tourism group. His practice largely focuses on operations-oriented matters faced by hospitality industry members, including sales and marketing, distribution and e-commerce, procurement and technology. Greg also serves as counsel and legal advisor to many of the hospitality industry’s associations and trade groups, including AH&LA, HFTP and HSMAI.

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