There is no Washington state law requiring private employers to provide employees sick leave, paid or unpaid, although many employers do grant it as an important employee benefit. It is important to remember, however, that if sick leave is promised, an employer may have a legal obligation to grant it. Washington courts have held that policies published in employee handbooks may constitute implied contracts, which are binding and enforceable. Thus, employers should regularly review policy statements made in handbooks or elsewhere to ensure that they accurately reflect current policies. If not, they should be changed, and employees should be notified of the changes.
Sick leave to care for a family member. Although employers are not required to provide sick leave, if, under the terms of a collective bargaining agreement or employer policy applicable to an employee, an employee is entitled to sick leave or other paid time off, that employee may use any or all of his or her choice of sick leave or other paid time off to care for:
• A child of the employee with a health condition that requires treatment or supervision; or
• A spouse, domestic partner, parent, parent-in-law, or grandparent of the employee who has a serious health condition or an emergency condition.
Leave may not be taken before it is earned. The law defines “child” as a biological, adopted, or foster child; a stepchild; a legal ward; or a child of a person standing in loco parentis who is either under 18 years of age or 18 years of age or older and incapable of self-care because of a mental or physical disability.
“Parent” means a biological parent of an employee or an individual who stood in loco parentis to an employee when the employee was a ...