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Year-End Personnel Topics Pop Quiz

Year-End Personnel Topics Pop Quiz

Here’s a short quiz to test your memory of some common, personnel-related legal issues as well as several new employment laws that came in to or remained in effect in 2017. This is an open-book exam and you won’t be graded. You don’t need to do an all-nighter or buy Cliff Notes.

A link to the answer will be provided following each question and the answers will include references or links to additional information related to the question asked. Good luck!

Question 1

The state has adopted 10 named, legal holidays: New Year's Day, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, Presidents' Day, Washington’s Birthday, Memorial Day, the Fourth of July, Labor Day, Veterans' Day, Thanksgiving Day, the Friday immediately following Thanksgiving Day (known as Native American Heritage Day) and Christmas Day. I’ve just listed 11; however, which one of those listed is not a legal holiday recognized by the state?

  1. Veterans’ Day
  2. Presidents’ Day
  3. Washington’s Birthday
  4. None of the above

Bonus question: True or false, the state’s listed legal holidays apply to all local government employees in the state?


Question 2

Dorothy wants to take Good Friday (the Friday before Easter) off from work so she can attend a church service. Must her employer grant her request?

  1. Yes
  2. No
  3. Probably


Question 3

Benji, aged 23, was just hired by a small, water-sewer district. He performs unskilled jobs for the district. Due to a limited budget, the district can only pay Benji the 2018 minimum wage. What per hour wage should Benji be paid in 2018?

  1. $7.25
  2. $11.00
  3. $11.50
  4. $15.00


Question 4

Marge started work for a small city on January 2, 2018. She will work 40 hours a week and will be paid $15 per hour. Marge has told her boss that she is scheduled for foot surgery on February 27, which will be 8 weeks after she began her employment. Marge anticipates that she will be off work for 4 days. On December 31 the city did not have a sick leave policy. Must Marge be paid for any of the time she will be off work following her surgery?

  1. Yes, she should be paid $380 for the 4 days she’ll be off work.
  2. Yes, she should be paid $120.
  3. No, she should not be paid for the 4 days she’s off work.


Question 5

The state legislature has adopted a paid family leave act that, beginning in 2020, will entitle qualifying employees up to 12 weeks of paid leave to care for his/her serious health condition or for that of a family member, or for the birth or placement of an adopted or foster child. How many employees must an employer have in order to be covered by this new state law?

  1. One employee
  2. Ten employees
  3. Fifteen employees
  4. Fifty employees


Question 6

The 2017 Legislature passed a state family leave bill that provides for paid family leave, unlike the federal Family and Medical Leave Act, which is unpaid. While legislation went into effect July 23, when will employees be able to take paid family leave under the state act?

  1. July 23, 2017
  2. November 30, 2017
  3. January 1, 2018
  4. January 1, 2019
  5. January 1, 2020


Question 7

The money to fund the state’s paid family leave act will come from rates paid for by both employers and employees. What will the rate be for employers having 50 or more employees?

  1. 0.22% of wages
  2. 0.18% of wages
  3. 0.4% of wages
  4. 0.004 % of wages


Question 8

Pat is seeking employment with a local government. The application packet includes a form asking for information. Which of the following information requests should not be included in this packet?

  1. Name
  2. Marital status
  3. Race
  4. Address
  5. Sex
  6. Gender identification
  7. Photograph


Question 9

Marvin has worked for the county for 29 years. He is non-union and is not covered by civil service. Marvin still does decent work but he’s getting slower and recently failed to meet certain deadlines. Marvin’s work issues might stem from his practice of discussing sports with others during the workday—a lot! The director of the parks department lives next door to Betsy, a recent college graduate who has a keen desire to work in the parks department. She got good grades in college and was captain of the lacrosse team. Her family is well-known and well-liked in the community. Since Marvin will likely be retiring in the next year or so, can/should the county let Marvin go so that Betsy can take over his position? Good idea? Bad idea? Explain.



1: c. Washington’s Birthday. Bonus Question: False. While many jurisdictions do adopt the state holiday schedule, they are not required to do so. See What’s the Deal with Holidays? [back to quiz]

2: c. Probably. Under RCW 1.16.050(3), local government employees are entitled to two unpaid holidays each calendar year “for a reason of faith or conscience or an organized activity conducted under the auspices of a religious denomination, church, or religious organization.” Each employee may select the days to be absent from work after consulting with his or her employee. Permission can be denied if the absence would impose an “undue hardship” or if the employee is needed to maintain public order. See What’s the Deal with Holidays? [back to quiz]

3: c. $11.50 per hour, see RCW 49.46.020(1) (b). While the federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour, several Washington cities have adopted a higher minimum wage. [back to quiz]

4: c. No, Marge should not be paid for the time she is off work. By the time of her surgery, Marge will have worked 320 hours. Under state law, an employee earns an hour of sick leave for every 40 hours he or she works. Although it would seem that Marge should be paid $120 (8 weeks x 40 hours/week = 320 hours; 320 hours/40 hours = 8 hours of sick leave. 8 hours of sick leave x $15/hour equals $120), an employee does not qualify to take sick leave until he or she has been employed for 90 days. On February 27, Marge will have only been employed for 55 days, so she would not be qualified to take paid sick leave. See Paid Sick Leave Starts January 1. [back to quiz]

5: a. One employee. Unlike its federal counterpart, which covers only those employers having at least 50 employees, the state paid family leave act applies to all employers. Until January 1, 2020, only employers with 50 employees or more must offer paid family leave; after that date, all employees in Washington will be qualified. See Legislature Enacts Paid Family Leave. [back to quiz]

6: e. January 1, 2020. Employees and employers will begin paying premiums beginning January 1, 2019, but use of the leave does not start until January 1, 2020. See Legislature Enacts Paid Family Leave. The federal act, which provides unpaid leave, currently provides unpaid leave to qualifying employees. [back to quiz]

7: c. 0.4% of wages is the initial combined rate to be paid by employers and employees. The employer’s share is 55% of the 0.4%; however, the employer may pay up to the full amount of the 0.4% rate. Although paid leave will apply to all employees, employers with fewer than 50 employees are exempt from paying the employer share of the premium. See Legislature Enacts Paid Family Leave Act. [back to quiz]

8: Everything but a and d. Only name and address should be requested. For additional information, see WAC 162-12-140. [back to quiz]

9: Probably a bad idea. Even though Marvin is at at-will employee, if he is still doing his job, albeit slower than in the past, it would be better to counsel him now and suggest that he limit his discussions about sports and try to complete his tasks in a timelier, correct manner. The county may monitor his performance to see if there is improvement. If there is not, or if his performance gets worse, termination might be a possibility.

However, the early hiring of Betsy might suggest that age discrimination is/was involved in the decision to terminate. The county should keep a good record of Marvin’s work deficiencies, what steps have been taken to obtain improvement, and what results have been achieved. Likewise, before taking any employment action, the county’s prosecuting attorney should be consulted. See Treat Your Elders Well. [back to quiz]

MRSC is a private nonprofit organization serving local governments in Washington State. Eligible government agencies in Washington State may use our free, one-on-one Ask MRSC service to get answers to legal, policy, or financial questions.

Photo of Paul Sullivan

About Paul Sullivan

Paul worked with many local governments and authored numerous MRSC publications on local elections, ordinances, and general local government operations in his many years at MRSC. He is now retired.