Washington State Sick Leave: Mental Health Days for Employees

Posted by Alesha Struthers Jul 28, 20210 Comments

The Washington state sick leave law raises questions for employers. As a law firm that assists Washington employers with their employment law and human resource law matters, we recognize that understanding the new sick leave policy can be tricky. This is why we've created a series of blog posts regarding how it works and the most common questions and concerns presented by employers.

  • The first post discussed employer requirements according to Washington state paid sick leave regulations.
  • The second post discussed whether employees are allowed to cash out their unused sick leave.
  • The third post discussed when employees can use their sick leave.
  • The fourth post discussed how Washington state sick leave applies to commissioned employees.

In this post, you will learn about whether sick leave can be used by employees for mental health days.

This blog post is for informational and educational purposes only. It is not and should not be used for legal advice for your business. If you want or need legal advice for your business related to Washington state sick leave, other employment law matters, or HR matters, schedule your free consultation with the Law Offices of Alesha Struthers now.

Washington State Labor Laws: Paid Sick Leave

Washington state labor laws require that all employers provide paid sick leave to their employees. Employees covered include part-time, full-time, temporary, seasonal, and agricultural. According to state law, any person who is hired by an employer is an employee and qualifies to begin accruing sick leave hours on their first day of work. You can learn more about who qualifies as an employee by reading RCW 49.46.010 or by scheduling a free consultation with the Law Offices of Alesha Struthers.

Employers are required to provide a minimum amount of one hour of paid sick leave for every 40 hours worked by their employee because it is “in the public interest…” There are some exceptions to the paid sick leave requirement under Washington state labor laws.

Washington State Sick Leave Law: Does It Cover Time Off for Depression & Other Mental Health Issues?

The term “sick leave” sounds a bit misleading. It may seem that it can only be used if your employees are physically ill or have an appointment to see their doctor. However, under the Washington state sick leave law, sick leave can be used for time off for any mental health reason, including depression. It is important to note that the law specifically states it was enacted for public interest. Mental health is explicitly listed as a reason that employees may use their sick leave.  

Is It Only for Employees?

Washington state sick leave law is specifically written for employees to take time off to care for themselves or for their family members for mental health reasons. Under the law, a family member is defined as:

  • A biological, adopted, foster, or stepchild. It does not matter how old the child is or whether they are dependent on the employee. This person can also be someone who is like a child to the employee.
  • A biological, adopted, foster, or stepparent of the employee or the employee's spouse or registered domestic partner. This person ca also be someone who is like a parent to the employee or the employee's spouse or registered domestic partner.
  • A spouse or registered domestic partner.
  • A grandparent or grandchild.
  • A sibling.

Free Consult for Employers: Washington State Sick Leave

Washington state sick leave law can cause a considerable amount of confusion. If you're an employer in Washington and have questions, schedule your free consultation with the Law Offices of Alesha Struthers.

Disclaimer: This publication is not legal advice. It is intended as legal information only. For legal advice specific to your needs, contact the Law Offices of Alesha Struthers, PS at 800-972-0411.

Posted July 2021