Extending Sick Leave Usage to Survivors of Human Trafficking

This past Monday, the King County Council took action to amend the King County Code to reflect the new sick leave requirements after Initiative 1433 was approved by Washington State voters in November of 2016. I took this opportunity to reevaluate when and how sick leave policy is used and proposed an amendment that passed, to allow County employees to utilize sick leave in order to increase their safety if they or a family member have been a victim of human trafficking.

In order to combat human trafficking, an insidious local and international issue, King County is sending a message to survivors: you are welcome here. Many survivors may not identify as having been a victim of a human trafficking crime and may feel unsafe identifying themselves or others. Including survivors in sick leave policy allows them to safely and confidentially take leave to get the help they need without the fear of losing their job. The legal process alone can be daunting, not to mention time-consuming and services for survivors are only effective if they are accessible. King County is the 5th largest employer in the region after Boeing, Microsoft, University of Washington and Amazon.com. With this action, we’re able to continue working to protect survivors of domestic violence as well as human trafficking.

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