|Sign our petition demanding safe, fair working conditions for health care workers.
We’re coming together as health care workers and community members across Washington to demand employers and our elected leaders commit to:
- Follow workplace safety guidelines issued by the Centers for Disease Control, and provide adequate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) including masks, gloves, gowns and eye protection
- Provide scrubs and a secure location to change uniforms so we do not have to bring our soiled uniforms home and into the community
- Help us meet new challenges with a pay increase of $5/hr in recognition of our work and the increased risk to ourselves and our families during this pandemic
- Provide paid leave for any worker who the Employer does not permit to work due to exposure to COVID-19, with no loss of pay or accrued time off
- Offer accommodation (telework or alternative assignments) or paid leave with no loss of pay or accrued time off for any worker in at-risk group (older than 60, pregnant, or with an underlying medical condition)
- Provide prompt notice from employer of known exposure, assessment of exposure risk, access to testing, and whether a worker is placed on paid leave
Every worker who keeps our health care system running is critical to the safety and health of our communities. Let’s make sure they have the equipment and working conditions to keep themselves safe through this crisis.
Haga clic aquí para ver la información de COVID-19 en español
This information is accurate as of August 27, 2020. As you know, information is changing rapidly and there is a lot of misinformation circulating. For accurate updates, please visit the links provided below.
You are eligible for UNEMPLOYMENT if:
- You’ve worked in WA state for the last 18 months
You’ve worked at least 680 hours in your base year
- You were laid off
- You’ve had a reduction in hours and are on Standby, Partial Employment
- Full-time and part-time employees
- Applying for unemployment should not negatively affect a noncitizen’s immigration status
Important note: Gov Jay Inslee has waived the week waiting period to receive unemployment benefits. Your employer cannot force you to exhaust your PTO before applying for unemployment.
What UNEMPLOYMENT provides:
What is Standby, Partial Employment or SharedWork?
- Partial wage replacement. Benefits are calculated on an individual basis.
- You can collect Standby for up to 12 weeks
- For more detailed information please see the following handbook: https://esdorchardstorage.blob.core.windows.net/esdwa/Default/ESDWAGOV/Unemployment/ESD-Handbook-for-Unemployed-Workers.pdf
Washington State Employment Security Department (ESD) has applied for the Lost Wages Assistance (LWA) program. This will allow ESD to provide an additional $300 per week for three weeks to those who have lost work due to the COVID-19 crisis and are receiving unemployment benefits. Lost Wages Assistance is a temporary emergency measure to provide additional unemployment benefits to eligible claimants. It is not the same as the additional $600 per week that was available under the specific CARES Act provision called the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC), which expired at the end of July. Lost Wages Assistance has different requirements for eligibility and is drawn from a limited pool of money from FEMA to be shared among all states that apply and are approved. More information at: https://esd.wa.gov/newsroom/employment-security-department-will-apply-for-lost-wages-assistance-unemployment-funds
- Standby means you do not have to look for another job while you collect unemployment benefits, so long as you stay in contact with your regular employer. You must accept any work that is offered by your employer that you can do without breaking isolation or quarantine, like telework.
- If you request more than four weeks of standby, you may receive a letter denying your request. Do not worry. ESD is reviewing standby denials on a case-by-case basis to determine if they meet the new criteria. If your standby request is approved, you will receive another letter informing you of the approval. Keep filing weekly claims during this time.
- Partial Employment or SharedWork: Under certain circumstances, you may work part-time while collecting unemployment benefits.
What qualifies as a ‘request to isolate or quarantine’?
- A letter documenting a voluntary request or involuntary order to isolate or quarantine from a medical professional, local health official, or the Secretary of Health.
- A note from your medical provider or medical records office recommending isolation or quarantine.
- A self-determination that Department of Health’s quarantine guidance applies to you. Here is a link to Washington State Department of Health’s quarantine guidelines: https://www.doh.wa.gov/Portals/1/Documents/1600/coronavirus/COVIDexposed.pdf
- A fear of exposure does not qualify as a valid reason to request to isolate or quarantine
WA State Paid Family and Medical Leave
You are eligible for WA STATE PAID FAMILY AND MEDICAL LEAVE if:
- To care for yourself or a family member after a qualifying event
- Quarantine, school closures and childcare closures are NOT qualifying events
- Someone sick with COVID-19 with medical certification can apply (medical certifications can be filed online)
- If you worked 820hrs in WA over the last year
- Up to 12 weeks of paid leave, up to 16 weeks if there is a qualifying event for you and for care of a family member
- If your collective bargaining agreement hasn’t been re-opened, renegotiated or expired since Oct 19, 2017 you may NOT be eligible – check with your Union Rep.
Important information about WA STATE PAID FAMILY AND MEDICAL LEAVE:
- There is a week waiting period before this benefit starts during which time you can either use PTO or take the time unpaid if your employer allows
- There is a large wait for this benefit. ESD expects to be caught up in June.
- You can not collect unemployment benefits and WA Paid Family and Medical Leave at the same time
WA STATE PAID FAMILY AND MEDICAL LEAVE provides the following protections:
- 90% of your weekly pay up to $1,000/week
- Your job is not protected
Federal Family Medical Leave (FMLA)
You are eligible for FEDERAL FAMILY MEDICAL LEAVE (FMLA) if:
- Your employer has 50 or more employees
- You’ve worked at least 12 months and worked at least 1,250 hours
- You’re using the leave to care for your own or a family member (spouse, child or parent) serious health condition
- If you are diagnosed with COVID-19 or are medically quarantined for suspicion of having COVID-19 you qualify IF your doctor provides a letter
- If your spouse child or parent is in isolation or quarantine, it may be difficult to assert that you are required to provide care, provide additional transportation to the family member or be able to provide psychological comfort and reassurance by virtue of being separated.
- If you have been quarantined due to ‘exposure’ and not actual diagnosis, you may be asked to work remotely as a reasonable accommodation in which case you would not qualify for FMLA
FEDERAL FAMILY MEDICAL LEAVE (FMLA) provides the following protections:
- 12 weeks of unpaid leave
- Maintenance of health insurance benefit
- Job protection
You are eligible for WORKER’S COMPENSATION if:
- You are a Health Care Worker or first responder who was exposed to COVID-19 at work
- There was an increased risk or greater likelihood of contracting the condition due to the worker’s occupation
- You can identify a specific source or event during the performance of your employment that resulted in exposure to COVID-19
- If you file for probable exposure and you meet the above criteria, you will be covered for the quarantine period up to 14 days whether or not you actually contracted COVID-19
- If you contracted COVID-19 incidentally to the workplace (ie an office worker who contracts the virus from a fellow employee), your claim will be DENIED
WORKER’S COMPENSATION provides the following protections:
- Pay for appropriate, medically required testing/surveillance
- Time-loss benefits
- The first three days are not paid unless you are medically required to remain off work on the 14th day following exposure
Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA)
Who is eligible for the FAMILIES FIRST ACT?
- Private sector employers with fewer than 500 employees
- Small businesses with fewer than 50 employees may be exempt
- All employees under an eligible employer are eligible
- Does not apply to undocumented workers
What does the FAMILIES FIRST ACT provide?
- Two weeks (up to 80 hours) of expanded family and medical leave (FMLA) at the employee’s regular rate of pay where the employee is unable to work because the employee is quarantined and/or experiencing COVID-19 symptoms
- Two weeks (up to 80 hours) of expanded family and medical leave at two-thirds the employee’s regular rate of pay because the employee is unable to work because of a bona fide need to care for an individual subject to quarantine, or to care for a child (under 18 years of age) whose school or child care provider is closed or unavailable for reasons related to COVID-19, and/or the employee is experiencing a substantially similar condition as specified by the Secretary of Health and Human Services, in consultation with the Secretaries of the Treasury and Labor
- Up to an additional 10 weeks of expanded family and medical leave at two-thirds the employee’s regular rate of pay where an employee, who has been employed for at least 30 calendar days, is unable to work due to a bona fide need for leave to care for a child whose school or child care provider is closed or unavailable for reasons related to COVID-19.
- Depending on which leave you qualify for, you can receive either at regular rate of pay or 2/3 regular rate of pay
The following web page provides up-to-date eligibility and benefit information regarding the newly enacted Families First Act:
Mental Health Tips:
- Mental Health is just as important. Here are some tips and resources.
My employer is reducing staff. They are offering for us to take PTO, leave without pay, be laid off or put on rotation with reduced hours. What is the best option for me?
Depending on your wants and needs, each situation presents different benefits and different downsides.
If you use your PTO, you will be paid at your regular rate of pay and continue to have benefits. Running out of PTO may be difficult later-on, if you contract another illness or have a planned vacation. If you have no accrued PTO, taking a layoff or reduction may be a better option for you.
If your employer is offering leave without pay, your job is protected and you would maintain your healthcare benefits, but you would not be paid for time not worked. You would not be eligible to apply for Unemployment Insurance.
If you are laid off you can apply for Unemployment Insurance, but your healthcare coverage will not continue. You can apply for WA Apple Health.
If you are put on rotation you can apply for Unemployment Insurance for the difference between your regular pay and the reduction, and you will continue to be covered by your employer’s health insurance.
My child is not allowed to go to school. What are my leave options? What are my childcare options?
As the school year approaches, many are concerned about what schooling from home will mean for their work. For workers employed by a company with less than 500 workers, the Families First Corona Virus Response Act provides some leave. See section above.
For workers employed by an employer with 500 employees, PTO is the only paid leave available for childcare unless your child contracts COVID-19. You can talk with your supervisor, manager or HR about accommodations to help you continue working while caring for your family.
For more information visit: https://www.k12.wa.us/about-ospi/press-releases/novel-coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-resources
Are they supposed to be laying people off by seniority? Who gets laid off first?
Your collective bargaining agreement will have language addressing this. Your employer needs to adhere to your agreement. If they are not, contact your Union Rep to file a grievance.
If you do not have a copy of your contract, you can find one at Local 8’s website: https://www.opeiu8.org/MemberSupportAction/FindyourContract.aspx
I am a Health Care Provider and my employer is not providing proper Personal Protective Equipment. What do I do?
Washington state is experiencing a shortage of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). The Federal government has awarded Washington state additional PPE to address this issue. Despite these measures, your employer may still be limiting the use of certain supplies, like N-95 masks.
Consult the following website for up to date information on PPE recommendations from the CDC: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/hcp/ppe-strategy/index.html
If you are a Health Care Provider (HCP), your employer is likely already working with the CDC on implementing appropriate PPE usage throughout the pandemic. Please consult your supervisor, director or HR via email for guidelines and specific questions regarding use of PPE and cc your Union Representative.
I am in a high-risk category-pregnant, over 60, chronic illness/immunocompromised or underlying medical conditions like heart disease, diabetes and lung disease (asthma)- what benefits am I eligible for and what is my employer’s responsibility?
Governor Jay Inslee released a proclamation in April protecting high-risk workers and has extended this proclamation to be in effect until the end of this public health emergency. The proclamation provides that employers must provide protections for high-risk workers.
See the proclamation here: https://www.governor.wa.gov/sites/default/files/proclamations/20-46.1%20-%20COVID-19%20High%20Risk%20Ext%20%28tmp%29.pdf?utm_medium=email&utm_source=govdelivery
Memo explaining the proclamation here: https://www.governor.wa.gov/sites/default/files/Memo%20on%20High%20Risk%20Worker%20Proclamation.pdf?utm_medium=email&utm_source=govdelivery
If you are a Health Care Provider or are in another job class that is considered ‘essential’ but are not in a “high risk” area (defined as an area where you are exposed to those who are suspected of having or have COVID-19) you may be required to go to work unless you provide a letter from a medical professional or qualified public health official.
If you are a HCP or other essential job class and work in a high-risk environment, email your manager, director and/or HR about accommodations and cc your Union Rep. You may be redeployed in a low-risk environment. Even in low risk environments all staff should be practicing social distancing as much as possible, practicing good hygiene and self-monitoring your health.
You can talk to your employer about making an accommodation for you to telework or work remotely. Most employers have limited capacity to allow employees to work at home. You may ask to be prioritized in those situations.
I believe I was exposed in the community. I want to do my part and prevent further spread of the virus. Can I stay home?
Unless you have been directed by a medical professional or healthcare professional to self-quarantine or isolate, you still need to report to work. Talk with your supervisor about how to practice social distancing while at work. Most employers are not prepared to have large numbers of employees telecommute or work remotely; however, it is always an option to talk with your supervisor or manager about working remotely.