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Study Finds Dismal Enforcement of Paid Sick Leave, Licata Urges Remedies

SEATTLE – A study released today from the Restaurant Opportunity Center has found that, as relates to paid sick and safe leave benefits, only 37.4% of restaurant workers in Seattle are aware of the law and 73.5% report that they don’t have access to paid sick leave. Further, in violation of wage theft laws, 20.5% of restaurant workers in the Seattle area report having worked off the clock without pay in the past year and 38.8% report that they are not paid 1.5 times the normal wage when they work overtime in violation of federal laws.

Councilmember Nick Licata reviewed the report findings, and believes that the Council should address:

  1. Better enforcement, including:
    1. company-wide investigations without requiring complaints
    2. a private right of action
    3. remedies that act as a greater deterrence
  1. Improved outreach to workers about their rights, including:
    1. retaliation protection
    2. provisions to encourage reporting of violations such as non-immigrant status visa certification for employees that report wage theft

 

In late 2014, the Council requested that the Executive deliver recommendations in April, 2015 for better enforcement of Seattle’s historic labor laws. Delivery of the recommendations was postponed until July, 2015 with agreement with the Council.  The Council has yet to receive recommendations from the Executive.

Councilmember Nick Licata said, “I appreciate the desire of the Mayor to negotiate with business and employee interests to come to agreement on how to move forward but if we believe that our labor laws are only as good as their enforcement at some point, we have to propose legislation and let the legislative process run its course.”

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