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Researchers say Seattle should better publicize sick-leave law


University of Washington researchers say Seattle needs to do more to let businesses know about its paid-sick leave ordinance. They found almost half of business owners didn’t know about it as the law was taking effect last year. 

Seattle began requiring businesses with more than four employees to offer paid sick leave last Sept. 1. The city auditor hired UW researchers to conduct a survey right around that time. They found that four out of 10 employers knew nothing about it.

Mary Denzel, deputy city auditor, says that’s in spite of substantial news coverage and outreach by the city. 

"Our Seattle Office for Civil Rights sent a postcard to every business with a license in the city of Seattle to notify them that the ordinance was going into effect and what some of the requirements were, so it is somewhat surprising," Denzel said. 

At the time the law went into effect, about a quarter of employers offered no paid sick leave. Two-thirds offered it to full-time workers but not part-time staff. The researchers plan to survey the same businesses again later this summer to see how many are now complying. 

In July 2017, Ashley Gross became KNKX's youth and education reporter after years of covering the business and labor beat. She joined the station in May 2012 and previously worked five years at WBEZ in Chicago, where she reported on business and the economy. Her work telling the human side of the mortgage crisis garnered awards from the Illinois Associated Press and the Chicago Headline Club. She's also reported for the Alaska Public Radio Network in Anchorage and for Bloomberg News in San Francisco.