For Immediate Release
April 8, 2020
Contact: Cynthia Santana, Communications Manager, 206-256-5219 firstname.lastname@example.org
Change to employer verification of paid sick leave
Seattle – (April 8, 2020) – Effective immediately, the Office of Labor Standards (OLS) adopts a temporary, emergency rule to clarify that employers may not require a doctor’s note or healthcare provider verification for use of paid sick time during the COVID-19 Civil Emergency.
Seattle’s Paid Sick and Safe Time (PSST) Ordinance, Seattle Municipal Code 14.16, allows, but does not require, employers to request verification for the use of PSST after an employee’s third consecutive workday of use. In all instances, verification cannot pose an unreasonable burden or expense to the employee.
This emergency rule specifies that it is “an unreasonable burden for employers to require verification from a health care provider. Employers must identify and provide alternatives for the employee to meet the employer’s verification requirement in a manner which does not result in an unreasonable burden or expense on the employee.”
Alternate documentation could include (but is not limited to):
- the employee’s own statement, or
- documentation from other individuals like service providers, social workers, case managers, or legal advocates, stating that, to their knowledge, the employee’s use of paid sick leave is for a covered purpose.
Employees are not prevented from voluntarily using healthcare provider verification, including a doctor’s note obtained through telemedicine, if it is available to them. OLS notes that employers do not have to request verification and strongly encourages employers to be flexible as possible given the COVID-19 Civil Emergency.
The temporary, emergency rule is adopted pursuant to authority granted in Seattle Municipal Code 3.02.050 and is effective for 60 days through June 7, 2020. After 60 days, the rules will automatically revert to the version in effect prior to the emergency rule, unless it is revoked sooner or extended through a formal rulemaking process.
To view the emergency rule filing and our updated Questions and Answers documents, please download a copy from our Paid Sick and Safe Time webpage.