Gov. Jay Inslee issued a proclamation on Monday, April 13, 2020, giving high-risk workers the right to protect themselves from COVID-19 without jeopardizing their employment status or loss of income.
The proclamation provides older workers and those with underlying health conditions a series of rights and protections, including:
- The choice of an alternative work assignment, including telework, alternative or remote work locations if feasible, and social distancing measures.
- The ability to use any accrued leave or unemployment benefits if an alternative work assignment is not feasible and the employee is unable to safely work. Employers must maintain health insurance benefits while high risk employees are off the job.
- Employers are prohibited from permanently replacing high-risk employees.
“I remain very concerned about at-risk populations – older adults and people with underlying health conditions,” Inslee said. “This proclamation ensures vulnerable high-risk workers don’t have to endanger themselves for fear of losing their jobs or a paycheck.”
High-risk individuals are defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and specifically include:
- 65 years of age or older; and
- People of all ages with underlying medical conditions, particularly if not well controlled.
Read the governor’s proclamation here.