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2024

Access to Employees’ PFML Data Clarified

Effective January 1, 2024, an employer, third-party administrator, or employee may have access to the following records and information that are related to an employee’s paid family or medical leave (PFML) claim and are held by the Washington Employment Security Department:

  • The type of leave being taken;
  • The requested leave duration and approved dates; and
  • Whether the employee was approved for benefits and was paid benefits for any given week.

This information may only be used to administer internal employer leave or benefit practices under the employer’s policies. Additionally, the information will be considered as accurate as possible because it’s based on information the department has when it processes the request.

Hiring Decisions Cannot be Based on Off-Duty Cannabis Use

Effective January 1, 2024, employers can’t discriminate against an applicant—during the initial stage of hiring—based on their:

  • Cannabis use off the job and away from the workplace; or
  • Test results, from the employer-mandated drug screening test, which found nonpsychoactive cannabis metabolites in their hair, blood, urine, or other bodily fluids.

Employers may:

  • Require an applicant be tested for a spectrum of controlled substances, which may include cannabis, so long as the employer doesn’t get the cannabis results;
  • Base initial hiring decisions on drug tests that don’t screen for nonpsychoactive cannabis metabolites; and
  • Require a drug- and alcohol-free workplace.

The law doesn’t apply to testing for controlled substances other than during the pre-employment stage. For instance, it doesn’t apply to:

  • Post-accident testing;
  • Testing when the employer is suspicious that an individual is impaired or under the influence of alcohol, controlled substances, medications, or other substances; or
  • Safety sensitive positions where impairment while working creates a substantial risk of death.

2023

Vehicle Searches

As of July 23, 2023, employers in Washington are prohibited from searching employees’ privately owned vehicles (even when on or near the employers’ premises) unless at least one of the eight exceptions in the law applies. The exceptions are when:

  1. The employer owns or leases the vehicle.
  2. It’s a lawful search by a law enforcement officer.
  3. The employee uses the vehicle for work-related activities and the employer needs to inspect it to ensure that it’s suitable for those activities. (This looks like an easy excuse for inspection in many cases, but employers should only use this—or any reason—in good faith.)
  4. A reasonable person would believe that accessing the vehicle is necessary to prevent immediate threat to human health, life, or safety.
  5. An employee consents to the search based on probable cause that they unlawfully possess the employer’s property or a controlled substance in violation of federal law and the employer’s written policy on drug use. This type of search can only be done by the business owner, owner’s agent, or a licensed private security guard. The employer cannot make consent to the search a condition of employment.
  6. It’s a security inspection of vehicles on a state or federal military installation or facility.
  7. The vehicle is on the premises of a state correctional institution.
  8. The vehicle is in a specific employer area subject to search under state or federal law.

Additionally, employees must be allowed to keep their personal belongings in their vehicle, as long as they’re legal to possess. As is the case with most laws that provide employee protections, employers can’t take adverse action against an employee who exercises their rights under the law.

Tukwila Fair Scheduling Enacted

Effective July 1, 2023, employers must offer additional hours of work to qualified part-time employees before hiring additional employees or subcontractors. The law doesn’t apply to employers with fewer than 15 employees and an annual gross revenue under $2 million.

Seattle Enacts App-Based Workers Paid Sick and Safe Time Ordinance

Beginning May 1, 2023, food delivery network company workers in Seattle—working for a company with more than 250 workers worldwide—are entitled to paid sick and safe time (PSST). Beginning January 13, 2024, all Seattle app-based workers—working for a 250-worker-count company—are entitled to PSST. For workers to be covered by the PSST they must, among other requirements, work in Seattle. For the company to be covered, it must be operating out of Seattle, but it doesn’t matter where its 250 workers are located. The 250 worker-count includes workers anywhere in the world and incorporates workers at the company’s chains, integrated enterprises, and franchises.

Accrual and use terms are included in the ordinance, along with pay calculations, verification, and notice requirements. The specifics of the ordinance are on the city’s website.

Washington Requires Pay Ranges in Job Postings

Beginning January 1, 2023, employers with at least one employee based in Washington and 15 or more employees total are required to post a wage scale or salary range in job postings. Postings must also include a general description of all the benefits and other compensation, like bonuses, paid time off, or profit-sharing, offered for that position. These requirements only apply to job postings that include qualifications for applicants.

The law is not applicable to transfers for current employees if there is no job posting, but employers will still need to disclose this information to employees they offer an internal transfer or promotion to if asked (as required by current law).

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