New Seattle Independent Contractor Ordinance Now in Effect

By Jordan Jeter

If you have independent contractors in Seattle, immediate action may be necessary to comply with Seattle’s Independent Contractor Protections Ordinance, which took effect on September 1, 2022.

Independent contractors covered under the ordinance include: self-employment independent contractors who have no employees, perform any part of their work in Seattle for a commercial hiring entity, and will receive at least $600 in total compensation from the hiring entity between January 1 and December 31 in any given year.

The ordinance applies only to “commercial hiring entities,” which is defined as a “hiring entity regularly engaged in business or commercial activity.” Under the law, a “hiring entity is regularly engaged in business or commercial activity if the hiring entity owns or operates any trade, occupation, or business, including a not for profit business[.]” 

Unlike other employment laws, the location and size of the hiring entity are not relevant to determining the ordinance’s coverage. Put differently, the hiring entity does not need to be based in Seattle for the ordinance to apply, so long as the independent contractor is performing any part of their work there.

Commercial hiring entities with independent contractors covered under the ordinance have several new obligations:

  • Provide a notice of rights under the ordinance, before the independent contractor begins work.
  • Provide a pre-work written notice that identifies the proposed terms and conditions of work and the terms and conditions of payment, before the independent contractors begin work.
  • Make timely payment in accordance with the terms and conditions of the pre-work written notice or contract. If left unspecific, then payment must be made within 30 days after the completion of services.
  • Provide a written notice that gives specific itemized payment information each time that payment is made.
  • Not retaliate against any person asserting their rights under the ordinance.
  • Maintain relevant records for a period of three years.

In addition to model notices, the Seattle Office of Labor Standards—the agency responsible for administering the ordinance—has published a detailed Questions and Answers guide and an Ordinance Fact Sheet.

Hiring entities that have an independent contractor already working for them as of September 1, 2022, must provide the notice of rights and pre-work written notice by September 30, 2022 or by the date of compensation, whichever date is sooner. For any independent contractor engaged after September 1, 2022, hiring entities must meet their obligations under the ordinance before work begins.

If you have any questions about working with independent contractors and your obligations under Seattle’s ordinance, please contact your employment counsel today.

This update is prepared for the general information of our clients and friends. It should not be regarded as legal advice. If you have questions about the issues raised here, please contact any of the attorneys in our Labor & Employment Practice Group, or the attorney with whom you normally consult.

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