Employers would be required to offer paid vacation leave to employees who work at least 20 hours a week under a proposal considered Friday in a House committee.
Democratic Rep. Gael Tarleton is the sponsor of House Bill 2238, which would apply to businesses with more than 25 employees. Workers must be employed for six months before they can begin accruing leave.
Tarleton said workers should be allowed to ask for paid vacation leave without the fear of losing a job offer.
“Everywhere I’ve worked, people have needed to need to take time off because people are not machines,” she said. “If we give people time off, they will come back to work ready to give it all they got.”
Seattle cardiologist Sarah Speck testified in support of the bill Friday at the House Labor and Workforce Development Committee. She said people are suffering from heart disease at a younger age because of workplace stress.
“We work too many hours, we take too few breaks and we have too many burdens that are exceedingly stressful,” Speck said. She said excessive stress can be just as harmful to a person’s health as obesity.
Kris Tefft of the Association of Washington Business testified against the bill, saying it would place burdens on employers.
“Paid vacation time is not free,” he said. “An increase in the amount of money an employer is forced to set aside for paid vacation comes at the expense of other salary or benefits that an employee might want more.”
The bill is scheduled for a committee vote on Jan. 28 at 1:30 p.m.