How’s your employee handbook? If you’re not creating state-specific employee handbooks, you could be putting your company at risk. The following Washington employee handbook requirements are must-have.

While no business is required to have an employee handbook, creating one fulfills an employer’s obligation to notify employees of certain rights. Whether you’re hiring across the country or solely in Washington state, a state-specific employee handbook is a smart way to introduce your new hires to the company, set forth company policies and notify employees of job expectations. Should problems arise, you’ll have documentation to support both employer and employee.

The problem is, Washington employee handbooks need to contain five mandatory federal policies, as well as 10 required state policies. Plus, there are over 50 more optional policies you can add. Because state and federal laws change all the time, you’ll need to periodically update your employee handbooks.

If you’re hiring in multiple states, simply keeping up with the law can be time consuming. Hiring remotely means you can gather top talent from all 50 states—but few companies have time to research, create and update employee handbooks each time they hire in a new state.

SixFifty can help. Read on to learn about required and optional Washington employee handbook policies, then find out how we take the work out of compliance.

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Required Federal Employee Handbook Policies

Federal law supersedes state law. The government requires employers to include five main federal employee handbook policies. These cover critical worker rights, including anti-discrimination laws, different types of leave and how the company handles sexual harassment.

The required federal employee handbook policies are the same across all 50 states, so you’ll need to include them in each state-specific version of your employee handbook. When there’s a change to the law, each handbook needs to be updated with the new federal laws.

Each of the following policies must be included in your employee handbook:

  • Equal Employment and Anti-Discrimination Policy
  • Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) Policy (50 Employees)
  • Jury Duty Leave
  • Military Service Leave
  • Sexual Harassment Policy

Required Washington Employee Handbook Policies

In addition to the five required federal policies, Washington state has included 10 more required policies. Note that some of these policies overlap with federal policies, such as FMLA, jury duty and military service leave. While federal law supersedes state law, states have the right to further tailor federal policies.

Note that some policies are only applicable to companies of a certain size, while paid sick leave policies are specific to Seattle and Tacoma. Be sure to use the right geographic area policies when hiring employees there.

Washington requires the following state employee handbook policies:

  • Domestic Violence Leave
  • FMLA
  • Jury Duty Leave
  • Meal and Rest Breaks
  • Military Service Leave
  • Paid Sick Leave (including specific policies for Seattle and Tacoma)
  • Pregnancy Disability Leave (8 Employees)
  • Volunteer Firefighter and Civil Air Patrol Leave (20 Employees)
  • Voting Leave
  • Witness Duty Leave

Optional Washington Employee Handbook Policies

But wait, there’s more! While the previous 15 policies are mandated, you may also wish to add one of over 50 optional policies. For instance, most companies will include the at-will employment policy, dress code policies, holidays and pay policies—they’re useful for most businesses.

You can also add policies to address specific company concerns—remote businesses might want to offer a telecommuting policy, while others may have a need to set forth company property and off-duty facility use policies. These offer additional protection for the company and structure for employees.

Choose from over 50 optional policies:

  • Affinity Group Policy
  • Arbitration Policy
  • At-Will Employment Policy
  • Background Check Policy
  • Business Expense Policy
  • Company Property Policy
  • Confidentiality and Trade Secrets Policy
  • Desk Hoteling Policy
  • Direct Deposit Policy
  • Dress Code Policy
  • Drug and Alcohol Abuse Policy
  • Electronic Devices While Driving Policy
  • Employee Benefits Policy
  • Employee Classification Policy
  • Employee Dating Policy
  • Employee References Policy
  • Employment of Relatives Policy
  • Exit Interview Policy
  • Gifts Policy
  • Health and Safety Policy
  • Holidays
  • Immigration Law Compliance
  • Lactation Accommodation Policy
  • Leave Policies, including: Bereavement Leave; Organ, Bone Marrow and Blood Donor Leave; Crime Victim Leave; School Activity Leave
  • Marijuana Policy 
  • Off-Duty Use of Facilities
  • Outside Employment Policy
  • Overtime Policy
  • Payment of Wages Policy
  • Payroll Deductions Policy
  • Performance Review Policy
  • Personnel Files Policy
  • Pets in the Workplace Policy
  • Progressive Discipline Policy
  • Public Relations Policy
  • Punctuality and Attendance Policy
  • Salary Pay Policy
  • Social Media Policy
  • Solicitation and Distribution of Literature Policy
  • Technology Systems Policy
  • Telecommuting Policy
  • Temporary Relocation Policy
  • Timekeeping Policy
  • Vacation/Paid Time Off
  • Video Conferencing Policy
  • Workers’ Compensation Policy
  • Workplace Violence Policy
  • Workplace Visitor Policy
  • Workweek and Work Schedules Policy

SixFifty Helps Employers Meet Washington Employee Handbook Requirements

Creating your employee handbook can feel like a full-time job. Between researching, adding and updating Washington employment policies, it takes a lot of time to protect your company.

That’s where we come in. SixFifty’s Employee Handbook tool makes it fast, affordable and easy to generate employee handbooks for all 50 states. We combine the convenience of automation with real expertise from some of the nation’s top lawyers. Just answer a few questions, download the handbook files and have your lawyer review and approve. Best of all, we’ll let you know when state and federal employment laws are updated, so you can make the necessary changes.

Questions? Want to see how it works? Schedule a free demo with SixFifty today!


Meili Bell

Written by Meili Bell

Meili Bell is the Content Manager at SixFifty. She spends her workdays writing, editing, project managing and reading about the intersection of law and technology. Meili comes to SixFifty from Gifted Music School, a nonprofit music school for the most dedicated young musicians in the region, where she was program director of the school’s flagship program for the last ten...

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