The state of Washington has published an announcement about the recently passed Engrossed Substitute Senate Bill 5115, known as the Health Emergency Labor Standards Act (HELSA).
Governor Inslee signed the bill and the new law became effective immediately. HELSA establishes the following requirements for an infectious or contagious disease like COVID-19 during a declared public health emergency:
- Frontline workers, as defined in the law, who contract an infectious or contagious disease are entitled to workers’ compensation wage replacement and medical benefits under a rebuttable presumption that exposure to disease occurred on the job.
- Employers with more than 50 employees at a workplace must notify L&I within 24 hours if they have ten or more employees who have tested positive for an infectious or contagious disease.
- Employers are prohibited from discharge, replacement, or discrimination of high-risk employees for seeking accommodations or utilizing leave to protect against an infectious or contagious disease.
- Employers must notify employees, union representatives, and employers of subcontracted employees of potential exposure to an infectious or contagious disease.
Please see the HELSA bill for more details, including the list of “frontline workers.”
L&I is drafting guidance on how these requirements will be implemented and enforced. More information and resources are coming soon.
If you have questions about the new law, email EyeOnSafety@lni.wa.gov.”
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