Coronavirus Resources for Employers in Washington State
There are more questions than answers as Coronavirus gains a foothold in Washington state. Luckily, there is a lot of guidance from local, state, and federal agencies that is specific to employers. Here’s a look at some of the information that may be helpful for your workplace, along with links to even more resources.
Planning for Coronavirus
No one knows exactly what the effects of Coronavirus will be, and no one can prepare for every possibility. But, this guide from Seattle and King County Public Health gives practical tips for steps you can take to help your workplace be ready for disruptions, absences, and other events that are most likely to have an impact on your business.
Planning For A Coronavirus Pandemic
(PDF from Public Health – Seattle & King County)
If you need quick steps that your company can take right away, start with the Washington State Department of Health’s workplace resources. It includes a list of tips that you can put in place quickly and without the need for complex policies and procedures.
Washington Department of Health Workplace Resources
Scroll down to this section – “What can I do to prevent COVID-19 illnesses my workplace? Implement the following strategies now!”
Paid Sick Leave, Workers’ Comp, and Coronavirus
The Employment Security Department released a new Scenarios and Benefits comparison chart on Thursday, March 12 showing the various benefit programs that may be available to workers based on different scenarios.
COVID-19 Scenarios & Benefits Available
Gov. Inslee announced on Friday, March 6 that first responders and health care workers are eligible for workers’ comp ”during the time they’re quarantined after being exposed to COVID-19 on the job.”
Inslee announcement on workers’ comp
L&I followed up on March 9 with an email clarifying which other workers may be eligible for workers’ comp benefits related to a coronavirus claim. L&I has also posted a webpage with guidance on COVID-19.
As an example, L&I cites claims from workers in “facilities with documented exposures” as ones that may be accepted, even if they are not first responders or health care employees.
Meanwhile, a worker “exposed through a fellow employee, or a waitress through a customer” are given as examples of claims that will likely be denied.
L&I Email on Coronavirus (March 9, 2020)
(PDF posted to the Approach website)
L&I also has a webpage now with answers to a variety of questions related to Paid Sick Leave and Workers’ Comp, plus resources for workplace safety. This is the place to go if you have questions about specific situations relating to coronavirus and one or more of your employees.
L&I Coronavirus Resources page
With sections on Workers’ comp, workplace safety, and paid sick leave
Paid FMLA and Layoffs
The Employment Security Department (ESD) has updated coronavirus tips for employees and employers. As covered last week by Ask Approach, employees can use Paid FMLA benefits if they are sick or to care for someone else who is sick. However, at this time, paid FMLA cannot be used for workers who are quarantined, but not medically certified as having an illness.
ESD also has guidance on two programs for employers that may help if layoffs are needed due to business impacts from coronavirus:
- Shared Work, for employees whose hours are reduced by up to 50%
- Standby layoffs, for full-time employees expected to return to full-time within 8 weeks
Guidance on the COVID-19 Coronavirus
Information for workers and employers from ESD
Gov. Inslee’s website also contains links to employer resources, including tax filing extensions and export assistance. We’ll continue to update Ask Approach with more information for Washington employers as it becomes available. Please also refer to the COVID-19 Coronavirus pages at the Washington State Department of Health and the federal Centers for Disease Control for more information.