After a city council meeting extending more than five hours, a mandatory paid sick leave ordinance was passed in Tacoma last night.
The law approved on an 8-1 vote, with Councilman David Boe — the only member of the body who currently owns and operates his own business — casting the No vote.
Not much changed from the first draft proposed in December. Starting one year from now, most workers will gain at least one hour of sick leave for every 40 hours of work.
Council members did make a couple of compromises: Union members will now be covered by the law; workers will be able to use five days of sick leave in the second year of employment, if they have any left over from the prior year; and workers can use sick leave to find protection against domestic abuse.
Businesses will have an option to provide sick leave hours to each employee in advance, before they are earned, to ease tracking logistics.
The new rules did not pass without a fight. Many citizens who spoke said they wanted more paid sick leave. However, the council was not able to get enough votes to require five days of paid time off annually, instead of three.
Members of the business community, including Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber of Commerce CEO Tom Pierson and Adriatic Grill owner Monique Trudnowski, supported the original proposal, but urged against any increase in days or complications.
The law will take effect Feb. 1, 2016, follow an administrative rule making process by city staff to clarify details and procedure. Council members did say they expect the city to enforce this new mandate, not just let it languish on the shelf.