Seattle Bans Employers from Requiring Medical Verification for Paid Sick Leave for 60 Days

DMEC StaffLegislative Updates

Seattle Bans Employers from Requiring Medical Verification for Paid Sick Leave for 60 Days

Michael A. Griffin, Sherry L. Talton, & Jonathan M. Minear

Jackson Lewis P.C.

Under Seattle’s Paid Sick and Safe Time (PSST) law, an employer normally may require verification (including a doctor’s note) for the use of PSST after three consecutive workdays in which the employee uses paid sick/safe leave. But effective immediately and through Jun 7, 2020, employers may not require a doctor’s note or healthcare provider verification for an employee’s use of paid sick/safe time, regardless of whether the employee seeks to use the time for COVID-19 related reasons.

Employers may seek other forms of documentation, including (1) the employee’s own statement, or (2) 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.

The Seattle Office of Labor Standards (OLS) adopted this emergency rule on Apr. 8, 2020, and strongly encourages employers “to be flexible as possible given the COVID-19 Civil Emergency.”

Unless OLS takes further action (like early revocation or extension of this temporary rule), the old rule about sick leave verification will automatically become effective again on Jun. 8, 2020.

Please note: this rule only affects employers within the Seattle city limits. At the time of this blog’s publication, Washington’s statewide paid sick leave law still allows employers to require a doctor’s note after an employee has been absent for more than three consecutive workdays.

***This article originally appeared on the Jackson Lewis’ Disability, Leave & Health Management blog and was reposted on the DMEC website with their permission.***