HELSA not among the COVID-19 emergency orders ending Oct. 31

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Governor Jay Inslee has announced plans to lift the COVID-19 state of emergency Oct. 31. Though the Washington state emergency orders are ending, coronavirus remains a workplace hazard and employers must take precautions to prevent the spread of the virus. What does not end Oct. 31 are the Health Emergency Labor Standards Act (HELSA) requirements that remain in effect as long as there is a public health emergency declared by the President of the United States. The current presidential emergency declaration is set to expire on March 1, 2023; however, President Biden may elect to continue it at that time.

HELSA requirements include:
• Frontline workers who contract COVID-19 are entitled to workers’ compensation wage replacement and medical benefits under a rebuttable presumption that exposure to disease occurred on the job. And under another state law, health care workers are entitled to these benefits, as well.
• Employers with 50 or more employees must continue to report COVID-19 outbreaks to L&I within 24 hours by calling 1-800-4-BESAFE (1-800-423-7233).
• Employers must notify employees of COVID-19 exposures at work.
o Non-health care employers must notify staff and others at the workplace of a potential exposure to COVID-19 within one business day.
o Health care facilities must notify staff and others at the workplace about high-risk exposures within 24 hours.
• Employers are prohibited from discriminating against high-risk employees for seeking accommodations for COVID-19.



Friday, 07 October 2022