Seattle council considers health care requirement for ancillary hotel businesses

Aug 22, 2019
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Written by Washington Retail
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The Seattle City Council’s Housing, Health, Energy, and Workers’ Rights Committee is considering an ordinance that would restore many provisions of the Hotel Employees Health & Safety Initiative, which voters approved in November 2016. The Washington State Court of Appeals overturned the initiative for violating the single-subject requirement.

The ordinance includes language that extends mandatory health benefit coverage to the employees of “ancillary hotel businesses.” The most recent language would bring retailers and restaurants that rent space in a hotel building under the provisions of this ordinance.

The Committee last week approved an amendment offered by Chair Teresa Mosqueda that scaled back the mandated health coverage from a fixed dollar amount to a simpler requirement that the employer offer the equivalent of gold-level coverage. Before the amendment, one hotel representative testified the proposed coverage would cost 24% more than the current “gold-level” coverage offered by the hotel.

John Engber, Director of the Retail Industry Coalition of Seattle, urged the Committee to narrow the definition of “ancillary hotel business” only to those businesses that are critical to the operation of the hotel. This would remove retailers and restaurants from coverage under this ordinance.

The Committee will next consider the ordinance on Thursday, September 5. If you operate a retail business in a hotel building, please come to that meeting to share your views with the Committee. The committee is scheduled to meet starting at 9:30 a.m. on Sept. 5 in City Council Chambers, 600 Fourth Avenue, Floor 2 in City Hall. If you cannot attend, please contact John Engber to share your situation with him.

You can contact John at 206-850-5517 or jengber@washingtonretail.org.