City Council overrides Mayor's veto of safe and sick leave ordinance

Ordinance will not become effective until Jan. 1, 2017

Lori Kinnear, City Council Member, District 2, 509.625.6261

Wednesday, January 27, 2016 at 11:55 a.m.

At Monday night’s meeting of the Spokane City Council, the Council overrode the Mayor’s veto of the earned sick and safe leave ordinance that was passed on January 11, 2016 with a 5-1 vote.

In the Mayor’s veto message, he suggested that the decision-making process did not take into consideration fiscal and legal impacts and was short on community input.

“The process to develop this policy took over a year and included stakeholder workgroups, public forums, and outreach by Councilmembers to over 400 businesses, associations and groups across the city,” said Councilmember Amber Waldref. “In my six years on City Council, I can’t think of a policy I have spent more time discussing with the community.”

In these community discussions and workgroups, stakeholders analyzed numerous studies showing benefits to communities that have implemented similar laws, including studies done in Seattle, Connecticut, San Francisco, Jersey City and Washington D.C.

Those studies found that sick and safe leave increased the quality of job applicants, employee productivity, and decreased employee turnover.

“In Jersey City, a Rutgers University study found that businesses that began offering sick leave as a result of the change in law experienced significantly more benefits than businesses who had yet to offer sick leave or who were already offering sick leave,” said Councilwoman Kinnear.

“Over 40,000 workers in Spokane currently do not have access to paid sick and safe leave. This policy was crafted specifically for Spokane to help workers and their families while considering the challenges of running small, family-owned businesses,” stated Council President Ben Stuckart.

The earned sick and safe leave ordinance will not become effective until January 1, 2017. In the interim, Council will work with the Administration on fine-tuning enforcement mechanisms of the ordinance and educating businesses on the details of the new policy. For more details on the ordinance, which allows most workers to earn 3 to 5 days of paid sick leave, please visit the Earned Safe and Sick Leave page.