The Washington Constitution provides for the Legislature to be convened each year only for a limited number of days, unless a special session is convened. The state Legislature is commonly referred to as a type of citizen legislature, where legislators may maintain outside employment while in office.
State and federal laws provide for leave from employment for limited purposes, such as for family or medical leave. Leave for other purposes is provided for specific types of employees, including volunteer firefighters, spouses of deployed military personnel, and domestic violence victims. When certain criteria are met, an employer generally may not discharge or take other adverse employment action against an employee for taking leave.
Some specific types of government employees may perform outside employment or service with employment protections, such as members of the military and emergency management service providers. Civil service employees of the state or of local governments may serve in elected office while retaining civil service status, including seniority, rank, and retirement status, when elected or appointed to an elective office, so long as they continue to make the usual contribution for such benefits. State retirement systems generally grant credit for leaves of absences taken for serving as a member of the Legislature.
A state or local government employer must grant a temporary leave of absence, without loss of job status or seniority, to an employee who is a member of the Legislature. The leave granted may be unpaid, or the employee may substitute earned paid leave. An employer is prohibited from discharging or threatening to discharge an employee for taking the leave.
An employee seeking a temporary leave of absence for legislative service must provide notice:
If an employer violates these provisions, an employee may bring a civil action for reinstatement of their position. No public resources may be used, directly or indirectly, to bring or maintain the action.
June 9, 2022