Minimum wage workers across Washington are about to get a raise and new benefits.
Minimum wage workers across Washington are about to get a raise and new benefits. SORBIS/SHUTTERSTOCK

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As of January 1, if you're an hourly worker in Washington state, you're almost certainly entitled to paid sick days.

The state's new minimum wage and sick leave law, passed by voters in November 2016, takes effect on New Year's Day. Under the law, employers of any size must offer hourly workers one hour of paid sick time for every 40 hours worked. That works out to about six and a half sick days a year for a full time employee.

The requirement applies to nearly all workers, including those who work part-time and seasonally. Some salaried workers are exempt, but "in general, if you're an employee covered by the minimum wage act, you're likely covered by the sick leave act," says Tim Church from the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries.

Sick days can be used to care for yourself or a family member or because of domestic violence. (Employers can also choose to allow the days to be used for other reasons.) If workers don't use their sick time, employers must roll over at least 40 hours of that unused time into the next year.

The law also increases the statewide minimum wage to $11.50 an hour.

Seattle has had paid sick leave since 2012. How much leave you get depends on the size of the business. Seattle's minimum wage is also higher than the new state standard. As of January 1, Seattle's minimum wage will be between $11.50 and $15.45 depending on the size of the business and whether it offers benefits.

If your boss isn't paying you the right wage or providing sick time in the Seattle, contact the Office of Labor Standards. Elsewhere in the state, contact L&I.

This post has been corrected to reflect that the new statewide minimum wage will be $11.50.