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.
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:
- Promotion of “if you are ill, stay home” requirement to all employees
- Use only trusted websites for up-to-date information:
- Cross-train resources for critical functions (i.e., payroll)
- More guidance for businesses and employers is available from the CDC
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.
We will continue to monitor the situation and provide periodic updates.