Washington Leave Laws




Vacation Leave

In Washington, employers are not required to provide employees with vacation benefits, either paid or unpaid. WA Dept. of Labor: Vacation Leave. If an employer chooses to provide such benefits, it must comply with the terms of its established policy or employment contract. WA Dept. of Labor: Vacation Leave.

An employer may lawfully establish a policy or enter into a contract denying employees payment for accrued vacation leave upon separation from employment. See Lapo v. Avalon Music, Inc., 2001 Wash. App. Lexis 1156 (2001); Walters v. Center Electric, Inc., 8 Wn. App. 322 (1973).



An employer may also lawfully establish a policy or enter into a contract disqualifying employees from payment of accrued vacation upon separation from employment if they fail to comply with specific requirements, such as giving two weeks notice or being employed as of a specific date of the year. See Walters v. Center Electric, Inc., 8 Wn. App. 322 (1973).

An employer is required to pay accrued vacation to an employee upon separation from employment if its policy or contract requires it. See WA Dept. of Labor & Industries FAQs.

An employer is not required to pay accrued vacation leave upon separation from employment if the employer’s established policy or employment contract is silent on the matter. See Lapo v. Avalon Music, Inc., 2001 Wash. App. Lexis 1156 (2001); Walters v. Center Electric, Inc., 8 Wn. App. 322 (1973).

An employer may cap the amount of vacation leave an employee may accrue over time. See Walters v. Center Electric, Inc., 8 Wn. App. 322 (1973).

An employer may implement a “use-it-or-lose-it” policy requiring employees to use their leave by a set date or lose it. See Walters v. Center Electric, Inc., 8 Wn. App. 322 (1973).



Sick Leave

Washington law does not require employers to provide employees with sick leave benefits, either paid or unpaid. WA Dept. of Labor: Sick Leave. If an employer chooses to provide sick leave benefits, it must comply with the terms of its established policy or employment contract.

An employer in Washington may be required to provide an employee sick leave, including paid leave if available by means of a policy or contract, in accordance with Washington’s Family Care Act and Family Leave Act and the federal Family and Medical Leave Act or other federal laws.



Holiday Leave

Washington law does not require private employers to provide employees with either paid or unpaid holiday leave. WA Dept. of Labor: Holiday Leave. In Washington, a private employer can require an employee to work holidays. A private employer does not have to pay an employee premium pay, such as 1½ times the regular rate, for working on holidays, unless such time worked qualifies the employee for overtime under standard overtime laws. If an employer chooses to provide either paid or unpaid holiday leave, it must comply with the terms of its established policy or employment contract.

State holidays

Visit our Washington State Holidays page for a list of holidays recognized and observed by the state of Washington as well as information regarding state laws governing holiday leave for public employers and employees.



Jury Duty Leave

An employer is not required to pay an employee for time spent responding to a jury summons or serving on a jury.

An employer must provide an employee sufficient leave of absence from work to serve as a juror.

An employer may not discharge, threaten, coerce, or harass an employee, or deny an employee promotional opportunities because the employee receives and/or responds to a summons, serves as a juror, or attends court for prospective jury service.

Washington Stat. 2.36.165; Washington Juror FAQ



Voting Leave

Washington law requires an employer to give an employee up to two (2) hours of paid leave to vote if:

  • the employee does not have two (2) hours off-duty time in which to vote while polls are open, and
  • the employee was not informed of his or her schedule far enough in advance of the election day to request an absentee ballot.

The employer may arrange an employee’s schedule to provide him or her with the required two (2) hours of off-duty leave to vote while polls are open.

WA Stat. 49.28.120



Bereavement Leave

Washington law does not require employers to provide employee bereavement leave. Bereavement leave is leave that is taken by an employee due to the death of another individual, usually a close relative. Employer may choose to provide bereavement leave and may be required to comply with any bereavement policy or practice it maintains.