Washington Governor Jay Inslee’s April 13 proclamation temporarily expands accommodations for employees who are at "high risk" for severe coronavirus illness. Washington employers should immediately prepare to make significant HR modifications for such employees that may include alternative work assignments, leave and unemployment benefits, and continued health care benefits, among other things.
The proclamation adopts the Centers for Disease Control’s (CDC) definition for employees who are at “higher risk” for severe coronavirus illness as those who meet any one of the following factors:
It is important to remember that employers cannot identify high-risk employees or even ask employees to self-identify. Requesting that information would be eliciting disability-related information. Rather, employees will need to identify themselves when seeking an accommodation.
The Governor’s proclamation grants new legal protections to high-risk employees working in Washington state. Employers must be prepared to engage in the reasonable accommodation process, grant leave and continue health insurance benefits under the following circumstances:
Update: On June 9, Governor Inslee issued Proclamation 20-46.1, which amended Proclamation 20-46 by declaring that it would remain in effect until 11:59 PM on August 1. Proclamation 20-46 was effective through June 12. Proclamation 20-46.1 extends the prohibitions contained in it for an additional 50 days. No other amendments were made to Proclamation 20-46.
Determining how best to navigate these uncertain times can be challenging. Lane Powell’s team of attorneys are here to help you develop and implement the strategy that supports your business and your employees.
For more information, consult Lane Powell’s COVID-19 Resource Center or contact Katheryn Bradley, Hannah Ard, Mike Kitson, Priya Vivian or Craig Day.
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