Governor Jay Inslee updated Washington employers on the current state of Covid-19 on Tuesday, March 10, 2020. Governor Inslee expects the number of confirmed Covid-19 cases to continue to grow; here’s what Washington State employers need to know.

Social Distancing

Employers across Washington are being asked to help slow the spread of Covid-19 by implementing social distancing techniques. Consideration of each technique should be based on position and the type of service the employee provides.

  • Encourage telecommuting for positions that can be done from home.
  • Conduct telephone meetings instead of holding meetings in conference rooms, even if everyone is working in the same building.
  • If you are in the service industry, consider whether there are options to deliver services in another way. Ex: If you own a restaurant, can you re-arrange seating to put more distance between tables?

Other Employer Best Practices

Employers can better prepare themselves and their employees by following these recommendations:

Options for employees infected or quarantined for Covid-19

Washington state has several programs in place to help reduce the financial impact on individuals who are not able to work as a result of infection or mandatory quarantine.

  • Paid Sick Leave: Employees are allowed to utilize accrued paid sick leave for any time off taken as a result of Covid-19.
  • Paid Family Medical Leave: Employees may be eligible for paid medical leave benefits available through the Employment Security Department (ESD). The waiting week does apply, and ESD is currently reporting a nine-week processing time for claims but can escalate claims for certain hardships.
  • Unemployment Insurance: ESD adopted emergency rules that went into effect on March 10, 2020, that ensures unemployment benefits are available to individuals whose employment is impacted by Covid-19.
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