We All Deserve a Safe & Healthy Workplace

We All Deserve a Fair & Equitable Workplace

This website is home to the Washington State Workers’ Rights Manual and provides an easy overview of everyone’s Workplace Rights.

COVID Worker Protections - updated August 1, 2021

National

New OSHA Health Care Workplace COVID Rules – National OSHA recently enacted a new Temporary Emergency Standard (TES) for Health Care Workplaces. The new rule requires health care workplaces to have written COVID protection plans, appropriate PPE, COVID screening, and run their ventilation systems to maximize air flow. View fact sheets on the new rule in English and Spanish prepared by the national NCOSH organization. OSHA has not issued any COVID requirements for non-health care workplaces.

Washington State

Washington has new relaxed some of its COVID-related laws and regulations protecting workers as of June 30, 2021. The Dept. of Labor and Industries (L&I) has released the new requirements in a fact sheet covering use of  masks and PPE, exposure notices to employees, and when employers must report COVID cases to health departments.

Masks are still required on public transit, and in health care and corrections facilities, public places with children present, including K-12 and childcare facilities, and homeless shelters. Masks are also required for non-vaccinated workers indoors at all workplaces. Employers must provide masks where required, and all employees have the right to use a mask unless it creates a safety issue.

Gov. Inslee’s Safe Workers policy, protecting workers who use COVID-related sick leave is still in effect as of June 30, 2021.  Stay tuned for additional changes in Washington’s COVID protection workplace rules. See L&I’s COVID News webpage: https://www.lni.wa.gov/agency/outreach/novel-coronavirus-outbreak-covid-19-resources. There are still specific rules covering hospital workers, farmworkers, and other occupations. There still protections for workers who need worker’s compensation or unemployment insurance related to COVID. The WA Employment Security Dept. (ESD) also has a web page on unemployment rights; https://esd.wa.gov/newsroom/covid-19-worker-information. See Chapters 2 and 4 of this Manual for more details.

Added Protection for High-Risk Workers – your employer is required to provide accommodations to you at work that protect you from risk of exposure to COVID-19 if you are a high-risk employee and you request accommodations. See L&I High-Risk Worker fact sheet.

  • These accommodations can include, but are not limited to: 1) telework; 2) alternative or remote work locations; 3) reassignment; and 4) social distancing measures.
  • If your employer determines that an alternative work arrangement is not feasible for you, they must permit you to use all your available accrued leave options or unemployment insurance, in any sequence and at your discretion, and they cannot retaliate against you for doing so. If you use up your paid time off, your employer still cannot permanently replace you at work for exercising your rights under this proclamation.
  • Unemployment Insurance for High Risk Workers – As of April 4, 2021, an unemployed person who has left work voluntarily and is high risk or lives with someone who is high risk is eligible for unemployment benefits in Washington state.

Local COVID Protection Rules

Hazard Pay for Grocery Workers –  Local governments, including King and Snohomish Counties, Seattle, Bellingham, Burien, Edmonds, and Olympia have approved emergency rules providing a $4.00 per hour hazard pay boost for many grocery workers. For more info on the King County law, view this summary King County Hazard Pay Ordinance.

Seattle Gig Worker Paid Sick Leave – new temporary law allows some gig workers to take paid leave to care for their own health and safety, or the health and safety of a family member, under some circumstances during the Covid-19 emergency. For more info: https://www.seattle.gov/laborstandards/ordinances/covid-19-gig-worker-protections-/gig-worker-paid-sick-and-safe-time-ordinance?utm_medium=email&utm_source=govdelivery

Seattle Hazard Pay for Food Delivery Gig Workers – Seattle has approved $2.50 premium pay for gig workers delivering food and beverage meals and groceries for the duration of the pandemic. For more info visit Seattle’s Office of Labor Standards.

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Workers’ Rights and COVID-19 - Resources for Workers

 

COVID-19 Workers’ Rights Webinars – The Labor Center has developed a series of webinars on COVID-related rights and benefits for workers. The Labor Center’s 2020 Covid-19 webinars are permanently available on our YouTube Channel using this link: Labor Center-YouTube-playlist. View recent webinars on:

  • Paid Sick and Family Medical Leave Options
  • Housing Security and the Eviction Moratorium
  • How to sign up for Health Insurance
  • Unemployment
  • Health and Safety at Work

Unemployment Resources/Links

Other COVID-19 Resources

For information on your rights to paid sick leave, paid family medical leave, unemployment and workers’ compensation, use the links to see your Basic Rights #1 and #2 below.

 

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Every year,  thousands of workplace violations go unaddressed.
Use this site to make sure your rights are not being violated. 

Here are your

5 basic rights in Washington

In Washington state, you have five basic rights as a worker. Click on the individual rights below for more information.

1) You have the right to be paid

Your rights to a minimum wage, tips, prevailing wage, overtime, rest breaks and scheduling. What you need to know about termination and unemployment. What to do about wage theft.

Learn More

2) You have the right to take care of yourself & your family

Your rights to Sick and Safe Leave, Family, Pregnancy and other Leaves, Workers’ Compensation when injured on the job, and Disability when unable to work.

Learn More

3) You have the right to be free of discrimination

Laws that protect workers from discrimination in the workplace, including who is protected and how to file discrimination complaints. How to respond to sexual harassment in the workplace.

Learn More

4) You have the right to be safe at work

Your rights to a safe workplace, in the workplace, employer and employee safety responsibilities, how to enforce workplace safety, and workplace safety for undocumented workers.

Learn More

5) You have the right to organize

A Voice on the Job Leads to a Better Job. How workers can organize together to improve conditions at work through a union or other organization.

Learn More

Updates

Here are selected sections of the manual that have undergone recent updates.

Outdoor Heat and Smoke Exposure

 

Outdoor Heat and Smoke Exposure

With this year’s extreme heat and wildfire smoke, the Dept. of Labor and Industries (L&I) has issued new emergency protections for outdoor workers.

Heat Stress

From May through September employers must have a written heat safety and training plan and protect workers from heat stress. This includes monitoring workers for heat stress, relieving stressed workers from duty, cool drinking water, and offering preventive cool-down rest periods. For temperatures above 100 degrees F, employers must provide shade or other cool-down areas and mandatory preventive cool-down rest periods. See L&I’s Emergency Order for more info.

Wildfire Smoke

The emergency rule requires employers to monitor smoke levels, provide training on smoke hazards, inform workers when smoke presents a health hazard, allow medical care for workers displaying illness symptoms, and provide respiratory protections when smoke is at hazardous levels. See L&I’s Emergency Order for more info.

Discrimination Rights Expanded to Include Immigration Status

Citizenship or Immigration Status

Washington’s Law Against Discrimination (WLAD) now bars discrimination based on immigration status as an unfair practice in addition to citizenship. A person or entity may make a distinction or treat someone differently based on citizenship or immigration status only if a state or federal law, regulation, or a government contract requires it. See Chapter 3 for more information.

Minimum Wage Increases for 2021

The Washington statewide minimum wage is $13.69/hour, and Seattle’s minimum hourly wage is $16.69 for large employers and $15.00 to $16.69 at small employers. For more details, see Chapter 1, Your Right to be Paid

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