For those of us living in the state of Washington, we can finally go back to some sense of normalcy. On June 30, 2021, Governor Inslee opened the entire state and all counties are in Phase 3 of the Healthy WA: Roadmap to Recovery reopening plan. This means most public spaces can now return to full capacity.
Having said that, WA business owners should make sure they are aware of the updated requirements and resources that are still in effect as they transition back to full operation. Let's break down a few key things to note when transitioning back to full operation:
Unemployment and Hiring Workers
Work search requirements will go back into effect starting the week of July 4th – July 10th. This means anyone currently on unemployment will be required to look for work and document at least three approved job search activities each week in order to remain eligible for unemployment benefits.
More information here: https://esd.wa.gov/unemployment/job-search-requirements
Also, unemployment insurance reports and payments for Quarter 2 are due July 31st, so make sure to submit them on time. If you miss a report or payment, you can submit a penalty waiver to the Employment Security Department.
There are still plenty of resources available to business owners regarding unemployment and hiring workers. See below with links:
- WorkSource: Provides assistance matching workers with employers in WA state
- SharedWork: Provides employers the ability to keep workers employed with reduced hours, while receiving unemployment insurance for the hours they aren’t able to work
- Small Business Assistance Grants: Provides small employers with grant money to help cover costs associated with one of their employees taking Paid Family and Medical Leave
- Additional Unemployment Programs: Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Benefits (PEUC), and Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) are still available until September 4, 2021.
Mask Policies & Requirements
Fully vaccinated employees do not have to wear a mask or socially distance at work unless the employer or local public health agency still requires it. Employers must confirm workers are fully vaccinated by having them sign a document attesting to their status or provide proof of vaccination.
Employers should make sure they have an updated log and are able to verify that unmasked workers are fully vaccinated.
Any employees that are not fully vaccinated must continue using a mask and adhere to the applicable safety requirements by the Department of Labor & Industries. These requirements can be found here.
WA State Labor Standards and Workers’ Rights
Make sure to stay up to date with the current labor standards in WA state. This includes minimum wage (which is currently $13.69 per hour in WA State), overtime pay, meal and rest breaks, paid leave, and others employer requirements.
Also, be aware of your specific area in WA state that may have increased or made changes to workers’ rights. For example, the minimum wage in Seattle is $16.69 per hour in 2021.
We are happy to provide various on-demand training opportunities focusing on current WA state labor standards and workplace poster requirements. This webinar is a great opportunity for WA state businesses to ensure they are properly conducting their hiring practices, staying up to date with new requirements, and becoming informed on increased worker protections and rights that will take effect in the future. You can register for training through the link below:
WA State Labor Standards & Workers' Rights - On Demand, Self Paced
Workplace Safety Requirements
There have been several changes to workplace safety requirements that business owners need to be mindful of as they hire and/or re-hire employees. The following on-demand pieces of training provide an overview of the workplace safety requirements as well as resources to ensure businesses are providing a safe space for their workers:
WA State Labor Standards: Workers’ Compensation - On Demand, Self Paced
Workers' Rights & Safety for Washington Businesses (General) - On Demand, Self Paced
Workers' Rights & Safety for Washington Businesses (Food & Farm Businesses) -On Demand, Self Paced
Resources and Support
Don’t hesitate to ask for help! There is a plethora of resources and support available for your business. Consider taking advantage of a few outlined below:
- Business Impact NW Calendar of Events: Improve your business with all kinds of training, courses, business expert sessions, and much more!
- Reopening Guidance for Businesses and Workers: Industry-specific guidance and updated information directly from the Governor’s office
- DOSH Safety and Health Consultations: Free and confidential workplace safety consultations by the Department of Occupational Safety and Health
- Additional Workers’ Rights Information: Additional information about workers’ rights and safety in WA state
- One on One Business Coaching: Speak to an experienced business coach who can support you and your business. Coaching is free and confidential.
About the author
Oren is a Business Coach & Trainer at Business Impact NW, providing personalized coaching for small business owners and entrepreneurs with a focus on financial forecasting, strategic planning, and business plan formation.
He has a B.S. in Business Administration and has founded several for-profit and non-profit organizations. He is also a certified ADA Coordinator and accessibility specialist, having consulted on disability inclusion programming for various municipalities and private organizations.
A musician and live music enthusiast, he co-founded Accessible Festivals, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to increasing the standards of accessibility at live music events and concerts throughout the country.