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Oct. 14, 2020

The Business and Workers update is a weekly newsletter providing news and information to help businesses and workers navigate the COVID-19 pandemic. The information is compiled by the state Economic Resiliency Team (ERT), part of the Joint Information Center.

What should Washington workers and employers know this week?

Oct. 14, 2020

We want to know about…

What issues remain confusing to you?

It is our intent to respond to common questions and share timely news related to Washington businesses and workers. We invite you to complete this survey to help us prioritize content for the next few months.

1-Minute Newsletter Content Survey

Your responses to our brief survey will help us address topics of concern for you and your business.

We want to know about…

Safe Start plan updates

All Modified Phase 1.5 counties advanced to Phase 2

Yakima, Benton, Franklin, Douglas and Chelan counties have been advanced to Phase 2 of the Safe Start plan. The advancement allows for operation of movie theaters, indoor fitness, agritourism, libraries and museums, pet grooming, in-home domestic services and more. See the "What's Open" page for further guidance.

Eviction moratorium in place through Dec. 31

Proclamation 20-19.3 has been extended through Dec. 31, extending a statewide moratorium on evictions. Tenants are responsible for rent and past-due rent, but late fees may not be assessed. The proclamation's requirements are detailed on page four of the full text.

Questions about the Safe Start Plan?

Ask questions about workplace safety, Safe Start phases, relief programs, paid sick leave, unemployment and more. Our Business Response Center is standing by to respond.

Submit your question here.

What you need to know about…

Leave options for Washington workers

Paid sick leave may be used if their place of work is closed in connection with COVID-19

Workers may use accrued Washington paid sick leave if their place of business is shut down by government mandate due to a health-related reason. Other authorized uses of paid sick leave are detailed under RCW 49.46.210.

Paid sick leave may be used to care for children whose school or child care is closed

Closure of schools and child care centers for health-related reasons is a valid qualification for use of accrued Washington paid sick leave under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). The FFCRA affords workers up to two weeks (80 hours) of paid leave at 67% of the worker's standard rate of pay. This act is in effect through Dec. 31.

Workers ordered to quarantine may also use paid sick leave

Under the FFCRA, paid sick leave is available to workers ordered to quarantine by a health care provider. The worker is also eligible for paid sick leave in the event that someone in their care is similarly ordered to quarantine. Under these circumstances, up to two weeks (80 hours) of paid sick leave is to be provided at their regular rate of pay.

Paid Family and Medical Leave available for medical, personal, and military circumstances

When a worker or their family experiences a qualifying event, Paid Family and Medical Leave (PFML) may afford workers up to 12 weeks of paid leave for eligible workers. Qualifying events include the birth of a child, serious injury or illness, and preparation for or return from military deployment. Workers that require PFML apply directly to the state. PFML benefits are paid by the state. Workers must have worked 820 hours across one or multiple jobs in the last year to be eligible for PFML.

Refer to L&I, FFCRA and PFML websites to answer common questions about paid leave

FAQ pages specific to Washington paid sick leave, Paid Family and Medical Leave and to the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) answer many common questions about paid leave and eligibility. Workers and their employers may wish to be informed about available paid leave in the event of an emergency or qualifying event.

What you need to know about…

Unemployment and WorkSource

Volume of unemployment claims on the decline

During the week of Sept. 27 through Oct. 3, there were 15,496 initial regular unemployment claims (down 12.6 percent from the prior week) and 506,708 total claims for all unemployment benefit categories (down 4.5 percent from the prior week) filed by Washingtonians, according to the Employment Security Department (ESD). Processing of existing claims in a timely manner and resolving claim issues remain a top priority. Review ESD's "strategies that work" to help get the assistance you need.

Job search requirements remain suspended but work search resources are available

The job search requirement of unemployment claimants will be suspended through Nov. 9. Claimants may continue to answer “no” to the job search question on weekly claims for now. Learn more on the job search requirements page.

Claimants should be aware that some benefits may be approaching expiration

Longstanding claimants may notice "Final Payment" status in their eServices account - this appears when available benefits have been exhausted through Unemployment Insurance (UI), Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation(PEUC), Extended Benefits (EB) or Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA).  Read the information on this page to learn more about PEUC and EB. It is normal to get a smaller-than-normal payment at the conclusion of any benefit program. When in doubt, keep submitting your weekly claims!

WorksourceWA resources connect job seekers and hiring employers

Employers in search of new talent and job seekers in search of new opportunities may turn to WorkSourceWA.com to find applicable resources. Job seekers may even participate in 1-on-1 text chats with reps from participating employers and organizations. Employers can identify qualified workers and engage with prospective applicants through workshops and events. Refer to the WorkSource Locator to engage with a local office.

What you need to know about…

Resources for small businesses

Small business webinars provide up-to-date info and live responses to questions

A monthly webinar presents information specific to Washington small businesses. The webinar features brief presentations from state and federal partners and open-mic Q&A time. Topics include unemployment insurance, returning employees to work, relief funding, workplace safety, face coverings and other timely topics. The next webinar will be held on Oct.15 at 1:30 p.m.   The webinar in Spanish will be held on Oct. 28 at 10 a.m.

Small business owners and entrepreneurs may register for upcoming virtual Washington State BizFair

The 24th annual BizFair – Navigating the New Normal – will be held on Nov. 10. Attendees will learn strategies to build or grow small businesses from industry experts. The event is free to attend. Interested attendees may register now and interested sponsors or exhibitors may contact info@bizfair.org. This event is presented by the SCORE Seattle chapter, the Washington State Small Business Liaison Team (SBLT), Employment Security Department (ESD) and Department of Labor & Industries (L&I).

Technical assistance for minority and non-English speaking business owners

Non-English speaking and other multi-ethnic small business owners are closing at disproportionately higher rates due to COVID-19. These business owners now have more places to seek help. Commerce has partnered with 20 organizations across the state to providing targeted technical assistance to help with access to funding and other help.

Inland NW COVID-19 Innovation Challenge open through Oct. 23

Inland Northwest community members are invited to participate in a COVID-19 innovation challenge. Submissions should address solutions common problems introduced by the pandemic. The top three ideas will be supported by $25,000 towards product development support and mentorship from feasibility testing through launch. Submit your ideas by Oct. 23.

Stress and anxiety are normal. Talk it out!

The pandemic has exacted a heavy toll on our mental health. It's normal to feel anxiety and it's healthy to talk it out. Try calling Washington Listens - it's a non-clinical support line staffed by specialists ready to lend an ear. Call 1 (833) 681-0211.

Stay connected


About Commerce

Commerce works with local governments, businesses, community-based organizations and tribes to strengthen communities. The department’s diverse portfolio of more than 100 programs and effective public and private partnerships promote sustainable community and economic development to help all Washingtonians thrive. For more information, visit http://www.commerce.wa.gov. For information on locating or expanding a business in Washington, visit choosewashingtonstate.com.

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