Commute Seattle works with businesses of all sizes to set up commuter benefit programs for their employees. The Commuter Benefits Ordinance launched January 1, 2020, and requires all Seattle employers with 20 or more employees to provide commuter benefits. Nonprofit organizations are exempt from the ordinance. The ordinance allows employers to broaden their approach to offering commuter benefits by providing a subsidy or allowing their employees to purchase transit passes using their Pre-Tax income dollars.

Are you curious about how your business will comply with this new ordinance? The Office of Labor Standards has officially announced the rules and guidelines to support implementation and compliance. We have highlighted the most asked questions during our complimentary consultations:

  1. Employers must subsidize 30% or more of an employee’s commuting costs if they are not offering a Pre-Tax Program
    • Offering a transit pass with a monthly subsidy amount that is equal to or greater than 30% of a retail monthly transit pass that will cover fares for King County Metro and Sound Transit Link Light Rail service. The subsidy can also be used towards King County Metro Vanpool program.
  2. What is a Pre-Tax Program? 
    • A Pre-Tax commuter benefits program allows employees to purchase their transit passes with their Pre-Tax income dollars. The Commuter Benefits Ordinance in Seattle requires that employers, at a minimum, provide a way for their employees to take advantage of these cost savings. An employer can provide a 30% subsidy instead of offering a Pre-Tax program. Learn More.
  3. Businesses have 60 days beginning from the employee start date to offer a commuter benefit program in writing
    • The provision or offer of a pre-tax election commuter benefit must be made in writing. Employers are strongly encouraged to provide this offer in the employee’s primary language. Download our sample enrollment form and offer letter template that meets this need.
  4. Employees must work an average of 10 or more hours in the work-week
    • To determine average hours, calculate an employee’s average weekly hours in the previous month, determine the number of complete seven-day workweeks in that previous month. This number will either be three or four workweeks depending on the month. Determine the total number of hours worked for all complete seven-day workweeks during the previous calendar month and divide by the number of complete workweeks.

Do you need more help? Email us or call 206-613-3243 to schedule a free consultation. The Office of Labor Standards is also available to help with your questions at 206-259-5297.

Read the full description of the ordinance rules.