Vigilant Blog

News, trends and analysis in employment law, HR, safety & workers' comp

Jun 18, 2020

WASHINGTON: Governor extends protections for high-risk workers

COVID-19DisabilityEmployee BenefitsSafety and Health 

On June 9, 2020, Washington Governor Jay Inslee extended the protections for employees who are at a higher risk to contract COVID-19 (coronavirus), specifically those aged 65 and over and those with certain chronic underlying health conditions, as defined by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). The original proclamation expired on June 12, 2020, but the revised version (Proclamation 20-46.1) extends the protections until 11:59 p.m. on August 1, 2020.

As we previously reported, the order requires employers to accommodate those high-risk employees upon request. Such accommodations include alternative work assignments, when feasible, and the use of available accrued leave or unpaid leave. The order also requires employers to maintain health insurance benefits for high-risk employees until the employee can return to work. Employers are forbidden to take any adverse employment action against an employee who exercises their rights under the order.

Tips: You may temporarily hire employees to fill these vacant positions and require those returning employees to give you at least five days’ notice prior to their return to work. You may also need to again consult your third-party administrator or group health insurance carrier to ensure you can continue to provide employer-sponsored health benefits for these employees who aren’t working. Document the interactions with any high-risk employees who request accommodations. You should follow your normal procedures for determining a reasonable accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Contact your Vigilant Law Group employment attorney for assistance.

This website presents general information in nontechnical language. This information is not legal advice. Before applying this information to a specific management decision, consult legal counsel.