Washington’s New Long-term Care Benefit Program: Important Deadlines Loom!

In 2021, Washington established a long-term care benefit program for Washington workers called the WA Cares Fund. In short, the program implements a mandatory 0.58 percent payroll deduction on employee wages to create a state trust fund, which, beginning in 2025, will be used to fund certain long-term care costs for eligible Washington workers. Each eligible Washington worker is entitled to a lifetime benefit of up to $36,500, which will be adjusted annually for inflation. The regulatory scheme implementing the program is still being developed, and we will update the below information on our Washington blog about the program as the regulatory rules are finalized and implemented.

Seattle City Council Approves Legislation Requiring Grocery Businesses to Provide $4/Hour Hazard Pay

On January 25, 2021, the Seattle City Council approved Council Bill 119990 (also referred to as the “hazard pay ordinance”), which establishes $4 per hour COVID-19 hazard pay for grocery employees working in the City of Seattle. Below is a chart summarizing the key provisions of the hazard pay ordinance.

Washington Extends Stay-at-Home Order and Puts Plan in Place to Reopen

On May 4, 2020, Washington Governor Jay Inslee issued Proclamation 20-25.3, extending Washington’s “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” proclamation, which was set to expire on May 4, 2020, to May 31, 2020. The governor’s office also released Washington’s Safe Start plan, detailing a four-phase approach to reopen the state in three-week intervals, which may be adjusted depending on various risk indicators.

Employees at High Risk for Severe COVID-19 Illness May Be Entitled to Job Protections in Washington State

Washington State recently issued new protections for workers who are at “high risk” of severe illness or death from COVID-19. The protections, created by Governor Jay Inslee’s Proclamation 20-46, affect both essential businesses and nonessential businesses expecting to reopen between April 13 and June 12, 2020, when the emergency proclamation expires, unless it is lawfully extended in accordance with Washington’s emergency powers laws.

Washington Governor Inslee Issues “Stay Home – Stay Healthy” Proclamation

On March 23, 2020, Governor Jay Inslee issued Proclamation 20-25 directing all residents immediately to heed current state public health directives to stay home. According to the proclamation, “[a]ll people in Washington State shall immediately cease leaving their home or place of residence except: (1) to conduct or participate in essential activities, and/or (2) for employment in essential business services.”

Changes on the Horizon for Washington State’s Pay Equity Law: Salary History Inquiries

On May 9, 2019, Washington State governor Jay Inslee signed House Bill 1696, “an act relating to wage and salary information.” The new law is similar to legislation being promulgated throughout the country, including by Washington’s neighbor to the south, Oregon. This law will become effective on July 28, 2019.