On April 1, WSNA joined other health care and first responder unions in asking Governor Jay Inslee to make clear that employers must protect high-risk workers and to clarify his earlier order regarding L&I claims filed by health care workers and first responders. Gov. Inslee took the following actions:
- On April 10, Gov. Inslee sent a memorandum clarifying how L&I should handle workers compensation claims for COVID-19. The memo clearly defines new conditions including: assuming any COVID-19 exposure occurred on the job unless there is clear evidence otherwise; and the state will pay for medical and time-loss costs for quarantine period regardless of final diagnosis. This memo also provides relief for employers who have workers utilize this benefit, disincentivizing employers from telling their nurses and health care workers that they became sick through “community exposure.”
- On April 13, Gov. Inslee issued a proclamation protecting high-risk employees. The proclamation guarantees workers over age 65 and workers with underlying health conditions can choose an alternative work assignment, use accrued leave or unemployment benefits (with mandated employer-maintained health coverage) if alternative work assignment is not feasible, and prohibits employers from permanently replacing high-risk workers (meaning workers who need protection now must be given their job back when this is over).