Governor Jay Inslee has announced plans to lift the COVID-19 state of emergency on October 31. Although Washington state emergency orders are ending, the coronavirus remains a workplace reality, and employers need to take precautions to prevent the spread of the virus.
What will not be ending on October 31 are the Health Emergency Labor Standards Act (HELSA) requirements. These will remain in effect until the US President rescinds his declaration of the public health emergency. The current presidential emergency declaration will expire on March 1, 2023, although the President may decide to continue it at that time.
HELSA requirements include:
- Frontline workers who contract COVID-19 are entitled to workers’ compensation wage replacement and medical benefits under a rebuttable presumption that exposure to disease occurred on the job. And under another state law, healthcare workers are also entitled to these benefits.
- Employers with 50 or more employees must report COVID-19 outbreaks to L&I within 24 hours by calling 1-800-4-BESAFE (1-800-423-7233).
- Employers must notify employees of COVID-19 exposures at work.
- Non-healthcare employers must notify staff and others at the workplace of potential exposure to COVID-19 within one business day.
- Healthcare facilities must notify staff and others at the workplace about high-risk exposures within 24 hours.
- Employers are prohibited from discriminating against high-risk employees for seeking accommodations for COVID-19.
More information regarding HELSA is available on the L&I website.