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01 May

April 2020 Washington HR Legal Updates

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“High Risk” Employees

What happened?
On April 15, 2020, the governor issued a proclamation extending additional protections for “high-risk” employees. This proclamation will remain in effect until at least June 12, 2020.

What are the details?
The following individuals are protected:

  1. Any individual 65 or older;
  2. Anyone living in a nursing home or long-term care facility; and
  3. Anyone with certain chronic underlying health conditions.

If any of the above employees ask for alternative work assignments, the employer must exhaust all possible options, including telework. If unable to accommodate, the employer must provide all paid leave options. The employee may choose whether to use accrued leave or file for unemployment. If paid time off is exhausted, the employee’s benefits must continue until the employee is cleared to return to work. Retaliation is prohibited.

If the employer needs to make a reduction in force, these protected individuals can be terminated, if the employment decision does not adversely impact their ability to obtain unemployment benefits.

What do employers need to do?
Comply with the above requirements for high-risk employees.