Washington State

Office of the Attorney General

Attorney General

Bob Ferguson

AGO 1954 No. 287 -
Attorney General Don Eastvold


A county may pay its employees under its rules relating to sick leave for the first three days following an injury while engaged in county work.

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                                                                    July 22, 1954

Honorable R. DeWitt Jones
Prosecuting Attorney
Clark County
301 Court House
Vancouver, Washington                                                                                           Cite as:  AGO 53-55 No. 287

Dear Sir:

            We have prepared our opinion in response to your request on the following question:

            May a county pay one of its employees under its rules relating to sick leave, for the first three days following an injury while engaged in county work?

            We conclude that the question should be answered in the affirmative.


            RCW 51.32.090 (4) provides that no workman shall receive compensation out of the workmen's compensation accident fund on the day he receives an injury or for three days thereafter.  Subparagraph (5) of the same section provides that an injured workman may not be compensated from the accident fund if his employer continues to pay his wages.  RCW 51.32.010, relating to benefits authorized under the act, provides that

            "* * * except as in this title otherwise provided, such payment shall be in lieu of any and all rights of action whatsoever against any person whomsoever."

             [[Orig. Op. Page 2]]

            These three statutes appear to constitute the complete policy of the state respecting salary payments and other compensation to workmen after sustaining injuries.  Not only do such statutes fail to prohibit the payment of salaries after the injury, but RCW 51.32.090 (5) clearly recognizes that such will be the case in some instances.  The three‑day period immediately following the injury is significant only in connection with the statutory limitation upon payments from the accident fund.  The act imposes no limitations upon salary payments during this period.  There being no such limitation in the workmen's compensation act, our inquiry must be directed to the laws governing salary payments to county employees on sick leave.

            Except for RCW 36.39.390, relating to persons employed on an hourly or per diem basis, the granting of sick leave to county employees is not governed by statute.  This matter is a subject within the legislative jurisdiction of the counties.  It may, therefore, be controlled by resolution of the county commissioners.  If, in their discretion, they desire to make such payments under the ordinary sick-leave provisions, we believe that no statute or public policy would be violated.

Very truly yours,

Attorney General

Assistant Attorney General