On August 9, Governor Inslee issued the nation’s strongest mandate requiring state employees, contractors, and health care workers to be vaccinated or risk losing their jobs. Under the order, state workers, contractors, and others covered by the order have until October 18 to be fully vaccinated. Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan and King County Executive Dow Constantine are following the Governor’s lead, imposing similar mandates for Seattle and King County workers. A number of school districts are considering similar actions.
State workers, contractors, or others covered by the order must be able to show proof of vaccination or face “nondisciplinary dismissal” for failure to meet job requirements. Employees will be allowed to seek exemptions for religious or medical reasons, but political or philosophical objections won’t be honored. Over the Labor Day Weekend, the Washington Federation of State Employees announced a tentative agreement with Governor Inslee on the mandate. The deal calls for a “vaccine incentive leave day,” allowances for those planning to retire by December 31, paid time to receive vaccination, and flexibility when an employee has received the vaccines by October 18, but the two-week antibody period has not been completed. The agreement also provides for a reliable process for employees to seek a religious exemption. The Governor has indicated that impacted employees will not be eligible to receive unemployment insurance benefits or other wage replacement benefits.