Minimum wage, paid sick and safe leave bills introduced in Legislature

OLYMPIA – A group of lawmakers in Olympia introduced bills that would work toward ensuring everyone has an equal opportunity to succeed by raising the state’s minimum wage and requiring some employers to provide sick and safe leave to their employees.

Bills introduced by Rep. Jessyn Farrell (D – Seattle) and Sen. Pramila Jayapal (D – Seattle) would raise the minimum wage to $12 per hour over the course of four years. After that, the wage would again be tied to the consumer price index.

“We know our economy is stronger when an honest day’s work is rewarded with a fair wage,” Farrell said. “During the recovery, top earners have done quite well, the stock market has seen record highs, and corporate profits have never been better. This bill rewards work, moves the economy forward, and promotes fundamental economic fairness.”

“Raising the minimum wage is about equality, strengthening families, and fundamental fairness,” said Jayapal. “It is about equality, because low wages disproportionately affect women and communities of color. It is about strengthening families, because low wages force people to get multiple jobs and work long hours in order to make ends meet. And it is about fairness. Everyone deserves to be paid honestly for honest work.”

The paid sick and safe leave bills sponsored by Rep. Laurie Jinkins (D – Tacoma) and Sen. Cyrus Habib (D – Kirkland) will award paid time off to workers based on hours worked and the size of the organization they are employed by.

“Getting sick shouldn’t mean getting fired,” Jinkins said. “You shouldn’t have to choose whether or not to stay home with a sick kid or put food on the table for your family at the end of the week. But that’s what’s happening today. One million Washington workers don’t have paid sick leave. It’s past time we give all workers the dignity and respect they and their families deserve.”

The measure would not only allow workers to take time to care for themselves or sick loved ones, but also allow them time off to seek legal or law enforcement assistance to ensure the safety of themselves or a family member.

“Ensuring that workers can take a day off when they’re sick helps everyone,” said Habib. “Nobody wants food at a restaurant brought by a waiter with the flu, but many workers face a choice between coming to work sick versus losing their pay or their job. This helps workers get better when they’re sick and it helps the rest of us stay healthy. It’s the right thing to do for our whole economy.”

The measures were introduced today at an event where other lawmakers were asked to come and sign on as co- sponsors. Each measure will receive bill numbers as soon as they are formally introduced.