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Financial Aid Department

Student Employment Center

Minimum Wage Act Information for Supervisors


In November 2016, Washington state voters passed Initiative 1433, which increased the minimum wage and mandated sick leave for employees. The initiative, which is now part of the Washington State Minimum Wage Act, RCW 49.46, specifies the following changes:

  • Increases the state minimum wage over the next several years
  • Ensures employees receive tips and services charges due to them
  • Requires employers to provide paid sick leave beginning January 1, 2018
  • Protects employees from retaliation for the lawful use of any of the above rights

Student Employee Provisions

Supervisors of student employees, be aware that Western student employees will begin accruing sick leave at the rate of 1 hour earned for every 40 hours worked -- unless otherwise exempted (see below for more information). Student employees will report sick leave usage on a new separate line item on the time sheet. Similar to regular staff, students will view their sick leave balances in Web4U.

The Washington State Department of Labor and Industries has provided specific guidance on when sick leave can be used and for what purpose. Authorized uses of sick leave include:

  • Preventative Medical Care for employee or employee's family member
  • Mental/physical illness, injury or health condition for employee or employee's family member
  • Treatment of a mental/physical illness, injury or health condition for employee or employee's family member
  • Employee's place of business is closed by order of a public official for any health related reason
  • Employee's child's school or place of care closed by order of a public official for any health-related reason
  • Absence that qualifies for leave under Washington's Domestic Violence Leave Act

In the past, when student employees were ill, they would often switch or trade shifts for their missed hours. This option remains available as long as agreed upon by both the employer and employee. However, you may not require a student to find a replacement worker for the hours that a student employee is using paid sick leave. Likewise, per RCW 49.46, you may not discipline or retaliate against a student employee for absences for which they are using their paid sick leave. You may currently have an attendance policy for your student employees. Attendance is important, but if a student has accrued sick leave and is eligible to use it for one of the reasons listed above, that absence cannot be held against a student employee. When a student has exhausted their sick leave accruals and continued absenteeism is a problem, you may consider disciplinary action for those additional absences as is appropriate for your area. Please take time to review and update your attendance policy.

Sick Leave Funding and Usage

Student employees often have multiple jobs on campus and will earn sick leave based on the combined hours worked. They will be eligible to use their accrued sick leave at any of their on campus jobs, regardless of where they earned it. Sick leave will be reported on the time sheet associated with the job in which the student was absent.

How sick leave expenditures are charged will vary depending on how the position is funded and whether the position is in a state-supported, grant-funded, or auxiliary program according to the following table:

Sick Leave Expenditures
Funding Source Program Type How Sick Leave is Charged
Departmentally Funded Auxiliary, self-supporting program Charged according to the EPAF FOAPAL for the position
Departmentally Funded State-supported program Charged to a central state-supported fund
Grant Funded Grant Program Charged to the grant fund
State Work Study or Institutional Work Study Both auxiliary, and state-supported programs Charged according to the EPAF FOAPAL for the position
Federal Work Study Both auxiliary and state-supported programs Charged to a central fund

Exempted Student Employee Positions

Certain salaried student employees are exempt from the sick leave provision per RCW 49.46.010. These student employees receive their salary regardless of time missed due to illness. This group of salaried, exempted employees includes Graduate Teaching Assistants, salaried Associated Student employees, Resident Advisors, and some Journalism publication staff.

Training and Resources

Staff in the Student Employment Center and Human Resources are available to assist you with any questions you may have. We will be holding question and answer forums on the following dates:

  • January 12th at 10am-12pm in Miller Hall 138
  • January 18th at 1pm-3pm in Fraser Hall 201

HR time sheet training manuals are being updated to reflect the new sick leave reporting process.

It may be helpful to you to refer to the following resources: