All posts by Kit Case

Gig Drivers Get Hazard and Sick Pay

Gig drivers are essential workers, bringing us the food and goods we’ve needed for the last six months and providing rideshare services during the pandemic. Gig drivers in Seattle recently won first-in-the-nation hazard pay and sick leave ordinances. 

The Fair Work Center announced the victory for Seattle gig delivery workers. The full announcement notice, excerpted below, can be read here.

Hazard Pay

Food delivery gig drivers are entitled to $2.50 in hazard pay for each restaurant or grocery delivery made inside the Seattle city limits. Hazard pay must be listed separately on the driver’s pay report, and paid out on top of what they would otherwise be paid. The hazard pay requirement took effect on Friday July 26th at 8:30pm, and continues for as long as the city’s official coronavirus state of emergency is in effect.

The City of Seattle (City) intends to make it clear that gig workers working for food delivery network companies have a right to receive premium pay for work performed during the COVID-19 emergency.

– Council Bill 119799

Read the full text of the Premium Pay for Gig Workers Ordinance for all of the details.

Paid Sick Days

Gig delivery drivers and Uber/Lyft drivers now have the right to take paid sick days. Drivers start off with a certain number of paid sick days based on how much they’ve worked back to October of 2019, and they will continue to accrue paid sick days going forward at a rate of 1 day for every 30 days you work. When a driver takes a paid sick day, they’ll get paid based on their average daily compensation, including tips. No doctor’s note or other documentation is required to take a sick day during the coronavirus pandemic.

The sick days law took effect on Monday, July 13th, 2020. They will continue while the state of emergency remains in place.

The definitions of “employee” and “employer” in local, state and federal law are broad, but food delivery network companies and transportation network companies rely on business models that treat gig workers as “independent contractors,” thereby creating barriers for gig workers to access paid sick and paid safe time and other employee protections.

– Council Bill 119793 

Read the full text of the Paid Sick and Safe Time for Gig Workers Ordinance for all of the details.

Who is Covered

The ordinance extends labor protections to gig drivers who typically don’t qualify for traditional benefits because they are currently classified as independent contractors.

The hazard pay ordinance applies to covered grocery and food delivery platforms operating in Seattle, including Instacart, Shipt, TaskRabbit, and Amazon Fresh. Covered restaurant delivery platforms include DoorDash, Uber Eats, Postmates, Caviar, and GrubHub. Sick pay applies to both grocery/food delivery drivers and rideshare drivers, such as Uber and Lyft.

Hazard pay and sick pay are temporary benefits that will continue as long as Seattle remains under a coronavirus state of emergency.

More Information

The City of Seattle Office of Labor Standards page on COVID-19 Gig Worker Protections has detailed information on both the Paid Sick and Safe Time for Gig Workers Ordinance and the Gig Worker Premium Pay Ordinance.

Help Fair Work Center Enforce the Laws

Like all Seattle labor standards, these laws apply to work done within Seattle city limits. Help Fair Work Center enforce the law — use their hazard pay tracker to let them know what you’re seeing, app by app and job by job.

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Deadline Extension for 2020 Health Coverage Ends September 30

As a result of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the Washington Health Benefit Exchange (the Exchange) provided a deadline extension to individuals who had lost their health coverage. This extension ends on September 30, 2020.

Replacing Lost Insurance Coverage

Individuals who have lost health insurance coverage after March 1, 2020 during the public health emergency will have until September 30, 2020 to sign up for coverage through Washington Healthplanfinder. Find more information, here.

Many Washingtonians lost their health coverage due to the pandemic. The typical 60-day sign up window for individuals losing coverage was extended earlier this year as part of the Exchange’s ongoing COVID-19 response efforts. They were given more time to enroll for insurance on the Exchange, until September 30, 2020.

Loss of coverage includes loss of minimum essential coverage (including employer-sponsored health coverage or COBRA) and loss of coverage from short-term limited duration plans or health sharing ministries.

Customers who sign up by September 15 can get coverage starting October 1. After September 15, coverage starts November 1.

Applications After September 30

Even after the deadline extension ends September 30, individuals losing employer coverage, or other minimum essential coverage, can still get covered. Individuals have up to 60 days before or after their coverage end date to report that change and sign up through the Exchange.

Standard qualifying events that allow individuals to sign up outside the annual open-enrollment period include:

  • Loss of coverage (including employer coverage, COBRA, or other types of minimum essential coverage)
  • A change in income that makes someone newly eligible for the federal subsidies (including people currently receiving coverage off-Exchange)
  • Marriage, birth of a child, or move within the state

Reminder: Enrollment is offered year-round to individuals and families through Washington Apple Health (Medicaid).

About Washington Healthplanfinder

Washington Healthplanfinder is an online marketplace for individuals and families in Washington to compare and enroll in health insurance coverage and gain access to tax credits, reduced cost sharing and public programs such as Medicaid. The next standard open enrollment period begins on Nov. 1, 2020.

Tips for Using the Washington Healthplanfinder

Note: Workers’ compensation benefits are NOT taxable income, and should NOT be included in the household income figure when applying for health benefits through the Exchange. This distinction is very important for all injured workers needing health insurance for themselves and their families.

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Kids’ Chance of Washington is Fundraising

This year, Kids’ Chance of Washington is fundraising without their annual gala event. Instead, they are holding a fundraising campaign and virtual run/walk to raise scholarship funds for children of workers fatally and/or seriously injured at work.

The deadline to become an event sponsor is September 15th. Fundraising is ongoing, but this year’s virtual run/walk campaign will continue through October.

The Scholarship Program

Kids’ Chance of Washington is registered in Washington as a 501(c)(3) charitable organization to provide needs-based scholarships to the children and spouses affected by these serious work-related injuries or conditions. To qualify, the worker must be totally permanently disabled under the criteria of the Washington Department of Labor and Industries, or deceased.

Scholarships are funded through donations from business and labor organizations throughout the state, as well as individuals, employers, attorneys, and other groups affiliated with the workers’ compensation system in Washington.

Since 2001, Kids’ Chance of Washington has awarded over $450,000 in scholarship and school-related money, giving assistance to over 50 recipients. Kids’ Chance can provide financial assistance for apprenticeship programs, vocational-technical schools and undergraduate college education.

Scholarships are also available for kids participating in the Running Start program. Running Start is a program that allows 11th and 12th grade students to take college courses at Washington’s 34 community and technical colleges. Students receive both high school and college credit for these classes, which accelerates their progress through the education system. Some students graduate high school and college the same summer, having earned a two-year degree simultaneously.

Running Start students and their families do not pay tuition. They are, however, responsible for mandatory fees, books and transportation. A Kids’ Chance scholarship could assist with these expenses.

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Toolbox Talks App – Free Safety Tool

The no-cost Toolbox Talks application works on phones and tablets to document training in real time in the field. Available in English and Spanish, the app was designed for the construction industry, yet many topics can be utilized by other businesses.

There are over 100 Toolbox Talks included with the app covering a variety of topics. It is simple to find safety talks for both construction and marine industries. Review a topic, then document your safety briefing with a signature capture form that generates a PDF of the meeting details that you can email or save to your device.

The free app includes:

  • What to do and learn.
  • Inspection tips.
  • Questions for discussion.
  • Presenter tips.
  • The ability to obtain participant signatures.
  • The ability to add photos of worksites or equipment related to training.
Featured Toolbox Talks:

Read more and ownload the Toolbox App for iOS and Android mobile devices here.

Safety & Health Investment Projects

This app was developed by the Construction Center of Excellence and funded by a Safety & Health Investment Projects (SHIP) grant. SHIP grants have resulted in a wide variety of projects and topics, including:

Applications for SHIP grants are currently being accepted until September 8, 2020. To apply for a SHIP grant for your project, or to see the list of approved grant products, read more here.

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Choose the Right Face Mask

New DLI web tool helps you choose the right face mask or covering.

Most Workers Must Wear a Mask

Most workers in Washington have to wear a mask or face covering at work under coronavirus workplace safety and health requirements that took effect June 8th.

With some exceptions, workers must wear some type of face covering or mask to help limit the spread of the coronavirus to those around them. Other higher-risk jobs may require respirators to protect the worker from infection by patients or clients.

Under the requirements, employers must provide the face coverings and masks to employees at no charge. Workers can bring their own face coverings and masks as well, as long as they meet requirements.

Choose the Right Face Mask

Choosing the correct mask for COVID-19 prevention at work just got easier and quicker if you use Washington State’s Department of Labor and Industries’ (DLI’s) new  web-based e-tool  from your mobile device or computer.

Although not intended for hospitals, clinics or other treatment facilities, the e-tool is designed to help most businesses make informed choices based on the level of risk and whether users are working alone, indoors, outdoors, or in a vehicle.

The e-tool also includes links to other helpful information including videos on how to correctly put on and remove masks, answers to common questions about masks and DLI’s “Which Mask for Which Task?” booklet.

We hope you’ll enjoy the convenience this eTool offers and share it with others in your safety network.

Where to find more info

Please visit L&I’s Coronavirus safety and health overview page for prevention materials and links to policies, requirements, and helpful resources about COVID-19 safety for healthcare professionals, agricultural workers, airline employees, construction crews, childcare workers, grocery workers, dental workers and many other occupations.

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Reciprocity Agreement for WA and OR Electricians

Reciprocity agreement created for Oregon and Washington general electricians will provide more flexibility and access across state lines.

The Washington State Department of Labor and Industries (DLI) issued notice of a reciprocity agreement reached between Washington and Oregon allowing qualified electricians to obtain cross-state licensing. Read the full release, here.

News of Reciprocity Agreement

The Oregon Building Codes Division and the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries (DLI) have signed a reciprocal agreement allowing general, journey-level electricians who have obtained a license in one state to apply for a license in the other state without having to take an examination for the reciprocal license under certain conditions.

With this agreement, qualified applicants would fill out a form, provide documentation of required qualifications, and pay a fee in order to be eligible to work in the neighboring state.

The agreement went into effect Aug. 17, and continues until the states terminate it.

Details of the Agreement

Here are some of the specifics:

Oregon reciprocal licenses are generally available to those who obtained Washington (01) general journey level electrician certificates after completing an 8,000-hour apprenticeship and making a passing score on their Washington exams. Anyone having a Washington master (01) general journey level electrician certificate is also eligible. Oregon has amended their rules to allow passing exam scores from other states when stipulated in a reciprocal agreement, which this agreement stipulates. Get more information about reciprocity and apply.

Those who need licensing verification from the state of Washington need to include the verification document with a Request for a Letter of Good Standing (F500-128-000) and fee of $26.40. Mail everything to the address shown in the top left corner of the letter of good standing form.

Washington reciprocal certificates are generally available to those electricians who obtained their Oregon general journeyman electrician (J) licenses after completing an 8,000-hour apprenticeship and passing their Oregon exams. Anyone having an Oregon General Supervising Electrician (S) license obtained by Oregon examination is also eligible. To apply, submit an Application for a Reciprocal 01 General Journey Level Electrician Certificate (F500-148-000).

No other reciprocal agreements exist covering any other electrical specialties. See L&I’s website for more information about reciprocity.

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Washington Maritime Blue

Additional funding for Maritime Blue will provide two more years of maritime innovation for the region.

The Port of Seattle Commission approved another two years of funding for Washington Maritime Blue, a non-profit strategic alliance formed to foster maritime innovation and sustainability in support of an inclusive blue economy. The Port’s support will help advance economic recovery by offering a maritime accelerator initiative, hosting maritime blue forums and developing a prioritized strategic plan and budget for 2021-2022. The contract would be for two years at the rate of $150,000 annually.

“The Port of Seattle is committed to investing in ways to advance innovation and sustainability in the maritime industry through partnerships with organizations like Washington Maritime Blue. It’s more important than ever as we look to jumpstart our economy that we draw from the maritime expertise, entrepreneurial spirt and environmental ethic inherent in the Northwest to help assure that the economic recovery of our region floats the boats of those who need it most,” said Fred Felleman, Port of Seattle Commission Vice President and Maritime Blue Board member.

The Port of Seattle has partnered with Maritime Blue over the past year to advance maritime innovation initiatives. Maritime Blue piloted a successful business accelerator program, identified access to capital issues facing the maritime industry and worked with the Port on greenhouse gas reduction strategies. Maritime Blue also helps introduce youth from a diversity of backgrounds to job opportunities through the management of the Youth Maritime Collaborative with additional support from the Port of Seattle and the City of Seattle.

“We thank the Port of Seattle for continuing its investment in this valuable work,” said Joshua Berger, the Governor’s Maritime Sector Lead. “These dollars will allow another two years of continued development and growth in an industry that has provided this state its economic ballast.”

Market research confirms that Maritime Blue is the only maritime cluster organization with the capability and focused support network to implement this partnership with the Port. At this time, no other maritime nonprofit organization or public agency has the expertise, breadth of advisory members or focus that will allow us to work in partnership to pilot a virtual maritime business accelerator program and advance key elements of Washington State’s Strategy for a Blue Economy. Investing in this partnership supports the Port’s Century Agenda objectives to be the greenest and most energy efficient Port in North America and to responsibly invest in the economic growth of the region and all its communities.

Select this Port of Seattle link for further background on what accelerator projects have been doing, along with a more in-depth interview with the program creator, and a project blog focused on equity and logistics.

About Washington Maritime Blue

Washington Maritime Blue is a non-profit, strategic alliance formed to accelerate innovation and sustainability in support of an inclusive blue economy.

With a mission to implement Washington State’s Strategy for the Blue Economy delivered by Governor Jay Inslee’s Maritime Innovation Advisory Council, it is a partnership between industry, public sector, research & training institutions, and community organizations.

Maritime Blue works to create a world-class, thriving, equitable and sustainable maritime and ocean industry through knowledge sharing, joint innovation, entrepreneurship, commercialization, business, and workforce development. For more information, contact info@maritimeblue.org.

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Safe + Sound Week

Safe + Sound Week, August 10-16, 2020, brings focus to a year-round OSHA campaign to encourage every workplace to improve upon their safety and health program. Employers and workers can recognize their safety successes and set the stage for new ones during Safe + Sound Week.

DLI and OSHA Help Employers Form Safety Programs

Washington’s Department of Labor and Industries has tools and resources available for businesses that want to improve safety, from the management level to the work floor.

Management leadership means there is a commitment from the top to implementing a program and using it to drive continuous improvement in safety and health.

When management leadership is sincere and is supported by actions, workers know that safety and health are important to business success. This means that the steps they take to improve safety and health will be valued by the business.

Top management can demonstrate its commitment to safety in many different ways, including:

  • Developing and communicating a safety and health policy statement.
  • Providing the resources needed to implement and operate the program.
  • Factoring safety and health into operational planning and decisions.
  • Recognizing or rewarding safety and health contributions and achievements.
  • Leading by example, by practicing safe behaviors and making safety part of daily conversations.

OSHA provides resources for businesses to strengthen their safety programs, including a webinar: Three Core Elements of Effective Safety and Health Programs.

Workers are Key Players in Safety

Workers often know the most about potential hazards associated with their jobs. When they are involved in finding solutions, they are invested in the program. To maximize participation, workers must feel free of any fear of retaliation or discrimination (e.g., for reporting an injury or hazardous conditions). Trust is key in promoting a safe workplace.

Workers can participate in many ways, including:

  • Developing the initial program design.
  • Reporting incidents (including near misses) so they can be investigated.
  • Analyzing hazards associated with routine and nonroutine jobs, tasks, and processes.
  • Defining and documenting safe work practices.
  • Conducting site inspections and incident investigations.
  • Training current coworkers and new hires.
  • Evaluating program performance and identifying ways to improve it.
COVID-19 Safety is Part of the Puzzle

Safe + Sound Week also gives us the chance to highlight workplace safety and employer responsibilities in the time of COVID-19. In Washington State, our phases of reopening are evolving as conditions change. However, one constant is an employer’s responsibility to provide a safe workplace.

The Safe Start Washington plan provides details for reopening of businesses.

Requirements for All Employers

The full details of the Safe Start Washington – Phased Reopening County-by-County plan is available here. The following is an outline of the requirements for employers under this plan. For all of the fine-point details, refer to the Safe Start document. In all phases – Employers are required to:

  • Provide (at no cost to employees) cloth facial coverings to employees, unless their exposure dictates a higher level of protection under the Department of Labor & Industries’ safety and health rules and guidance. Since June 8, all employees have been required to wear a cloth facial covering, consistent with the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries’ COVID-19 workplace safety and health rules and guidance.
  • Cooperate with public health authorities in the investigation of cases, suspected cases, outbreaks, and suspected outbreaks of COVID-19; cooperate with the implementation of infection control measures, including but not limited to isolation and quarantine and environmental cleaning; and comply with all public health authority orders and directives.
  • Notify the local health jurisdiction within 24 hours if it is suspected that COVID-19 is spreading in the workplace, or if you 2 or more employees develop confirmed or suspected COVID-19 within a 14-day period.
  • Keep a safe and healthy facility in accordance with state and federal law, and comply with COVID-19 worksite-specific safety practices.
  • Educate workers in the language they understand best about coronavirus and how to prevent transmission, and the employer’s COVID-19 policies.
  • Maintain minimum six-foot separation between all employees (and customers) in all interactions at all times. When strict physical distancing is not feasible for a specific task, other prevention measures are required, such as use of barriers, minimizing staff or customers in narrow or enclosed areas, and staggering breaks and work shift starts.
  • Ensure frequent and adequate hand washing with adequate maintenance of supplies. Use disposable gloves where safe and applicable to prevent virus transmission on tools or other items that are shared.
  • Establish a housekeeping schedule that includes frequent cleaning and sanitizing with a particular emphasis on commonly touched surfaces
  • Screen employees for signs/symptoms of COVID-19 at the start of their shift. Make sure sick employees stay home or immediately go home if they feel or appear sick. Cordon off any areas where an employee with probable or confirmed COVID-19 illness worked, touched surfaces, etc. until the area and equipment is cleaned and sanitized. Follow the cleaning guidelines set by the Centers for Disease Control to deep clean and sanitize.
  • Post a sign requiring customers to wear cloth facial coverings, and prominently display it at the entrance to the business so that it is immediately noticeable to all customers entering the store.
  • Follow requirements in Governor Inslee’s Proclamation 20-46 High-Risk Employees – Workers’ Rights.

Businesses are also required to implement any health and safety requirements developed specifically for their industry.

More Information for Workers

If you have questions or concerns about exposure to the Coronavirus on-the-job and how the workers’ compensation process will work, feel free to contact our firm for assistance.

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Boeing and Alaska Airlines AnnounceD Layoffs

Both Boeing and Alaska Airlines announced layoffs due, in large part, to the downturn in air travel as a result of the pandemic.

Boeing Layoffs

We wrote a prior article about the initial rounds of layoffs and incentivized early retirements at Boeing. Now, a new round of layoffs has been announced.

Boeing notified Washington State through its Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) system of the upcoming layoffs. Effective October 2, 2020, it is reported that another 940 employees will face permanent layoff.

These additional layoffs coincided with the news that the FAA is finalizing its plan for the return of Boeing’s 737 MAX to service.

The Aerospace Machinists union, IAM 751, states that about 1/3 of their members that received WARN letters were reWARNs, meaning the member was already holding a WARN notice, effectively extending their layoff date to October 2nd from their earlier notice.

Alaska Airlines Layoffs

The Hill reported on the recent WARN notice from Alaska Airlines, excerpted below. Read the full post, here.

Alaska Airlines warned that almost 1,600 Washington state employees could be permanently laid off in the fall. The airline plans to begin letting a portion of its employees go, starting on Oct. 1, the day after the government’s Payroll Support Program terminates.

The expected layoffs in Washington state represent 20 percent of Alaska Airlines’s workforce in the area, including customer service agents, maintenance technicians and flight attendants. 

The Seattle Times also reported on the fact that Boeing and Alaska Airlines announced layoffs. Read the full report about Alaska Airlines, excerpted below, here.

Alaska avoided layoffs among its pilots when it offered incentives including half pay to take voluntary leave. More than 1,000 of Alaska’s 3,000 pilots took the incentives. The flight attendants were offered a voluntary-leave option that included health care but was unpaid.

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School Openings and Workers’ Compensation

We have received questions about teachers, school openings and workers’ compensation in light of the Coronavirus. Many teachers are worried about returning to the classroom. Workers’ compensation benefits may be available if teachers get sick in the classroom.

Reopening of Schools for 2020-2021 School Year

In Washington State, Governor Inslee is leaving the decision of when and how to reopen schools to the districts to decide. “We’ve got to give the districts some time to really to think about what works for them rather than dictating to them a one-size-fits-all solution,” Inslee said.

Governor Inslee’s July 9 Press Conference

Seattle Public Schools Superintendent Juneau is recommending to the School Board that Seattle Public Schools start the 2020-21 school year remotely. They would follow the remote instruction model until the risk of significant transmission of COVID-19 has decreased enough to resume in-person instruction. The School Board will vote on Superintendent Juneau’s recommendation and an associated plan for Fall 2020 on August 12.

Superintendent Juneau recommends remote-learning instruction model.
WEA Demands Safety First

The Washington Education Association (WEA) has written that safety must come first in any plans to return to school in the fall. WEA is calling for the 2020-21 school year to begin with distance learning and virtual instruction.

Teachers, School Openings and Workers’ Compensation

Governor Inslee announced workers’ compensation coverage for quarantined health workers/first responders on March 5, 2020. The expanded coverage takes effect immediately and covers eligible workers already under quarantine. There is a presumption that, if these workers come down with COVID-19, their exposure was related to their work activities and that workers’ compensation benefits are due.

Teachers, as well as other workers that might be considered essential, do not have a presumption of coverage at this time. However, workers’ compensation claims have and should be filed if workers come down with COVID-19. The Department of Labor and Industries has acknowledged processing claims filed for COVID-19.

Workers’ compensation coverage can include medical testing, cover treatment expenses if a worker becomes ill or injured and provide time-loss payments for those who cannot work if they are sick or quarantined. A claim can also include benefits for permanent impairment or should death occur due to the virus.

Our suggestion to those that are diagnosed with COVID-19, and believe that they were exposed to the Coronavirus on the job, including teachers as well as other workers, is to file a claim with the Department of Labor and Industries. Workers can file a workers’ compensation claim up to two years after being exposed to a disease at work.

How to File a Workers’ Compensation Claim

A claim can be:

  • Filed online
  • By phone: 1-877-561-FILE (3453)
  • Through your doctor’s office

As with any claim decision, the Department of Labor and Industries will issue an Order and Notice stating whether your claim is allowed or denied. You will have sixty (60) days within which to file a written protest or appeal if you disagree with the decision. A protest can be faxed, mailed or submitted to the Department online. If no protest or appeal is filed within 60 days from the date you received the order, the decision becomes final and binding on all parties.

If you have any questions, either before filing a claim or if a claim should be denied, please feel free to contact our firm for assistance. We offer a free case analysis, and would be happy to discuss the circumstances you are facing with you.

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