COVID-19 SICK LEAVE PROTECTIONS FOR WASHINGTON WORKERS

Here is a summary of the current state of Covid-19 sick leave and family leave laws that apply to workers in the state of Washington. 

WASHINGTON EMPLOYER-PAID SICK LEAVE 

  • Washington employers are required to pay employees for sick time at their regular hourly rate of pay. Employees earn at least one hour of paid sick leave for every 40 hours they work. Employers may provide more leave if they choose. Employees can begin using accrued paid sick leave on their 90th day of employment. 
  • Employees can use accrued paid sick leave for any physical illnesses, injuries, or other health conditions. They can also use accrued paid sick leave to care for family members who have physical illnesses, injuries, or other health conditions. 
  • Employees can use accrued paid sick leave to cover work time missed for medical diagnosis, care, treatment, and preventive medical care. It also covers time an employee spends in mandated quarantine. 
  • Employees can use accrued paid sick leave if their place of business is shut down by a public official due to a health-related reason.
  • Employer-paid sick leave covers time off to care for children affected by school closures and child-care facility closures. 
  • Paid sick leave does not cover employees who choose to self-distance, but employers are encouraged to provide teleworking opportunities where practicable. 
  • Paid sick leave generally does not cover employees whose employers shut-down temporarily for business reasons due to Covid-19. However, employers may choose to pay employees for this time away from work. And employees affected by shut-downs may be eligible for standby or unemployment insurance benefits. 
  • For more info on Covid-19 and Paid Sick Leave in Washington, visit: https://lni.wa.gov/agency/outreach/paid-sick-leave-and-coronavirus-covid-19-common-questions

WASHINGTON FAMILY MEDICAL LEAVE

  • Quarantine, school closures, and child care are not currently recognized as qualifying events for Paid Family and Medical Leave in Washington.
  • If an employee is sick with Covid-19, they can apply for Paid Family and Medical Leave benefits, which can provide partial wage-replacement while the employee is away from work. The employee must have a medical certification that they are unable to work due to a serious medical condition. Workers can apply for a certification and benefits online at the link above; electronic signatures are accepted.
  • Employees who are sick with Covid-19 may want to use any accrued employer-paid sick leave first because there is no waiting period, no medical certification required, and employer-paid sick leave offers full rather than partial wage replacement.
  • Employees who lose their jobs due to Covid-19 illness can apply for benefits from BOTH unemployment insurance and Paid Family and Medical Leave, but an employee cannot receive both benefits at the same time. 
  • For more info on Covid-19 and Paid Family Leave, visit: https://paidleave.wa.gov/coronavirus/

FEDERAL PROTECTIONS: Federal Coronavirus Response Act:

  • Applies to employers with fewer than 500 employees.
  • Labor department may exclude: healthcare workers, first responders, employers with fewer than 50 employees.
  • Employers with fewer than 25 employees may not have to return workers to jobs that no longer exist due to Covid-related business changes
  • Effective beginning April 1, 2020
  • Contains two parts, Paid Sick Leave and Expanded Protected Family Leave
  • Paid Sick Leave: 
  • A full-time employee is eligible for 80 hours of paid leave, and a part-time employee is eligible for the number of hours of leave that the employee works on average over a two-week period, IF the employee in unable to work/telework because the employee: 
    • is subject to a Federal, State, or local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19;
    • has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine related to COVID-19;
    • is experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and is seeking a medical diagnosis; or
    • is caring for an individual subject to an quarantine order or self-quarantine. 
  • Depending on the reason for leave, employees will either be paid their regular rate of pay or ⅔ their rate of pay during leave period.
  • Expanded Protected Family Leave: 
  • If a full-time employee is caring for a child whose school or place of care is closed (or child care provider is unavailable) for reasons related to COVID-19, the employee is eligible for up to 12 weeks of leave (two weeks of paid sick leave followed by up to 10 weeks of paid expanded family & medical leave) at 40 hours a week. A part-time employee is eligible for leave for the number of hours that the employee is normally scheduled to work over that period.

STILL HAVE QUESTIONS? 

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