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Workplace Compliance Rules for the Pacific States

Workplace Compliance Rules for the Pacific States

[Updated 10/5/21]

Below is a round-up of workplace compliance rules and regulations employers need to know to keep their business compliant. If you believe there may be a discrepancy between a state and local order that affects you or your business, you should contact your local government and/or competent local counsel for further advice.

Alaska COVID-19 State Regulations

Cloth Face Covering Mandate

Cloth face coverings must be worn by all non-essential workers. Retail and restaurant employees must also wear cloth face coverings. Health Mandate 016 has further details.

California COVID-19 State Regulations

California-specific COVID-19 regulations can be found here >>

Hawaii HR and Workplace Compliance Rules and Regulations

January 1: Updated Documentation Requirements for Proof of Victim Status Takes Effect

Who: Hawaii employers

When: Effective January 1, 2021

What: Under existing law, when an employee requests unpaid leave because they have been a victim of domestic or sexual violence, employers can request documentation to verify the employee’s victim status. Effective January 1, 2021, Senate Bill 2638 amends the document requirements for proving victim status in order to “make consistent the types of documents accepted as proof.”

The employer may verify victim status by requesting that the employee furnish:

  • Certified or exemplified restraining orders, injunctions against harassment, and documents from criminal cases;
  • Documentation from a victim services organization or domestic or sexual violence program, agency, or facility, including a shelter or safe house for victims of domestic or sexual violence; or
  • Documentation from a medical professional, mental health care provider, attorney, advocate, social worker, or member of the clergy from whom the employee or the employee’s minor child has sought assistance in relation to the domestic or sexual violence.

An employer cannot request documentation to verify an employee’s status as a victim more than once every six months. In a case where the proof is a protective order with an expiration date, the employer may not request proof of victim status again until after the expiration date of said order, or any extension thereof, whichever is later.


  • Update policies and procedures to comply with the new documentation requirements. Revise your HR Manual and employee-facing documents as needed.
  • Train HR personnel on the updated documentation requirements.

Additional Resources:

SB 2638

Hawaii COVID-19 State Regulations

Face Mask Mandate

All residents are strongly encouraged to wear face masks in accordance with the CDC.

Essential businesses must require customers to wear a face mask as well as employees who have contact with the public or goods that will be purchased. See page 12 of the Eighth supplementary proclamation related to the COVID-19 Emergency -for further details.

Additional Resources

NEW: Hawaii COVID-19 Guidance

Eighth Supplementary Proclamation Related To The Covid-19 Emergency

Additional Guidance On Face Masks To Prevent The Spread Of COVID-19

Hawaii COVID-19 Information & Resources

Hawaii Department of Health

Oregon COVID-19 State Regulations

NEW: Governor Brown Ends Pandemic Executive Orders for Masks, Capacity, Social Distancing

On June 25, 2021, Governor Kate Brown issued Executive Order No. 21-15 recovery order, that rescinds most of the previous COVID-19 related Orders starting June 30, 2021 until December 31, 2021, unless terminated sooner by the Governor.

Among the changes:

  • Face masks are no longer required in most indoor and outdoor settings, except in settings where federal requirements mandate them (e.g., health care settings, prisons, or public transportation). Businesses may choose to still require customers to wear face masks. Anyone who isn’t vaccinated against COVID-19 is strongly encouraged to wear a mask in indoor settings.
  • Public transportation will still require everyone to wear a mask and remain socially distant, as it falls under federal guidelines.
  • Capacity limits and social gatherings are now over. Businesses may go back to pre-pandemic capacity limits. Businesses may choose to still limit how many people can enter.
  • Employees no longer need to wear masks or keep socially distant, unless they work for an organization that falls within the federal COVID-19 guidance (e.g., health care, public transportation, etc.)
  • Vaccination status is not required, although employers may generally choose to require on-site employees to be vaccinated as long as the policy and procedure comply with EEOC rules, doesn’t violate local law or reasonable accommodations for a disability or religious beliefs.

What You Need to Know:

  • Oregon OSHA removed the face covering and physical distancing requirements for the COVID-19 workplace requirements, excepting in settings that fall under federal guidance (e.g., public transportation, health care settings, etc.). The other components of the workplace standards remain, including ventilation systems, notifications of positive COVID-19 cases, and quarantines.
  • Oregon OSHA is revising its COVID-19 workplace rules based on Governor Brown’s Executive Order.
  • You may continue to implement stricter workplace requirements, including face covering and social distancing policies and procedures for employees, customers, visitors, etc.
  • You are no longer required to maintain COVID-19 signage on-site but you still need to display the Oregon OSHA It’s the Law poster.
  • You no longer need to make reasonable accommodation for employees concerned about returning to work out of fear or discomfort of COVID-19.

What Should You Do?

  • Review and update your face covering, physical distancing and barrier policies and procedures and ease restrictions where applicable.
  • Communicate these changes to your employees, visitors, customers, etc.
  • Continue to monitor for more news from Oregon OSHA regarding the COVID-19 workplace rules.

Additional Resources

Oregon OSHA Formally Lifts Face Covering, Distancing Parts of COVID-19 Rules

Executive Order No. 21-15

Changes to Rules Addressing the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency in All Oregon Workplaces

Changes to Rules Addressing the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency in All Oregon Workplaces Temporary Rulemaking Adopted Amendments June 2021

Oregon OSHA It’s the Law Poster (English)

Oregon OSHA It’s the Law Poster (Spanish)

Governor Kate Brown Announces Oregon to Reopen No Later than Wednesday, June 30 (Press Release)

Effective Immediately, Oregon OSHA Formally Lifts Face Covering, Distancing Parts Of COVID-19 Rules (Press Release)

COVID-19 and Oregon OSHA

Oregon Department of Health

Oregon Executive Orders

UPDATED 6/30/21: COVID-19 Workplace Temporary Standards Turned Permanent

Update 6/30/21: In light of Governor Brown’s Executive Order ending several pandemic provisions, Oregon OSHA also lifted the temporary standard for face coverings and social distancing. Review the above information about Governor Brown’s Executive Order.

As Oregon’s COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standard expired, a new and permanent COVID-19 workplace standard took effect. The new rule is largely the same as the emergency temporary standard with some small changes.

Among the key things to know are:

  • Displaying Posters. Employers must post the COVID-19 Hazards Poster provided by Oregon OSHA in a prominent place in a well-trafficked area. Remote employees must be provided the poster through electronic methods or an equivalent. Here is the poster in English and Spanish.
  • Employers with 10+ employees must have a written infection control plan that meets core requirements.
  • Ventilation. By June 3, 2021, employers with 10+ employees must certify in a written statement that their ventilation system is working in accordance with the rules. The certification must include the date and the name of the person making the certification. The statement must be kept on record as long as the permanent rule is in effect. All employers must inspect their ventilation systems on a quarterly basis, ensuring air filters are working properly or replaced and all intake ports that use outside air are properly maintained and cleaned.
  • Starting May 17, 2021, health care workers are required to have respiratory protection when in direct patient care.
  • By June 3, 2021, employers must create a crisis management plan, meet ventilation requirements, determine how to manage infection control and use alternatives to employer-provided transportation, employee notification, and a PPE supply management plan for health care employers.
  • Quarantine and Right to Return to Work. If employees are quarantining, employers must provide written notification about their right to return to work.
  • Plans Made Under the Emergency Temporary Standard. Employers that previously conducted COVID-19 workplace risk assessments and developed an infection control plan and conducted training to comply with the previous COVID-19 measures, don’t need to repeat these requirements.
  • Vaccinations. Oregon OSHA aligned with federal OSHA’s guidance that employers shouldn’t distinguish between vaccinated and unvaccinated employees.
  • Industry-specific Rules. The final rule reevaluated the industry-specific standards and consolidated them down to six: Restaurants/Bars/Public Tasting Rooms, Retail Stores, Personal Services, Construction, Transit, Professional/Division 1/PAC-12/West Coast Conference Sports, Fitness-Related Organizations, Education Institutions, Child Care and Early Childhood Programs, Veterinary Care, Emergency Services, Law Enforcement, Jails/Prisons/Custodial Institutions.

Just as with the Emergency Temporary Standard, the final rule continues to outline physical distancing and cleaning and sanitation requirements. Employers must ensure everyone (from employees to customers, contractors, and visitors) in their facility is wearing a mask, face covering, or face shield. Employers must provide face coverings at no cost to the employee. If employees choose to wear a respirator, they are subject to respiratory protection standards.

Is there an end date? Not at this time. Oregon OSHA plans to consult with several stakeholders every two months, starting no later than July 2021 to determine if/when the rule can be repealed.

What Should You Do?

  • Review and update your current plans and procedures to align with the permanent rule. Conduct your legal counsel to ensure compliance.
  • Display the COVID-19 Hazards Poster in a prominent spot and distribute the poster to any employees working remote.

Additional Resources

COVID-19 Hazards Poster (English | Spanish)

Oregon Adopted Rule

COVID-19 Public Health Emergency in All Oregon Workplaces

Summary of Key Issues Revision and Extension of Oregon COVID-19 Workplace Rules (May 4, 2021)

Explanation of rulemaking, summary of comments and agency decisions

437-001-0744 Rule Addressing COVID-19 Workplace Risks

COVID-19 Emergency Temporary Standards Background

Update 5/4/21: The Temporary Standard expired on May 4.

Update 2/12/21: During February and March, Oregon OSHA will be hosting several virtual public hearings to discuss a proposal to make a permanent standard for COVID-19 exposures in the workplace. The hearings will be hosted on February 23, February 26, March 3, and March 4, and comments will be accepted until April 2, 2021.

The current Workplace Safety Standard will expire on May 4, 2021, and the proposed permanent rule will take the place of the current emergency temporary standard at that time.

Oregon OSHA issued a proposed permanent rule at the beginning of the 2021. Broadly, the changes include:

  • Requiring transportation alternatives rather than having a number of workers in one vehicle.
  • Ventilation requirements for businesses with more than 10 employees and certifying that the business meets the ventilation requirements.
  • Providing written notification to employees about their rights to return to work following isolation or a quarantine.
  • Cooperating with public health officials who are arranging for vaccinations in the workplace.
  • A specific requirement for healthcare employers to provide respirators to employees who come into proximity with people who have a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19, also ensuring or making a good faith effort to supply or acquire respirator supplies.
  • Discouraging the use of face shields as a substitute for face masks or face coverings.

Update 12/9/20: Oregon OSHA released guidance that allows some businesses a “grace period” to meet the COVID-19 Temporary Standard deadlines. This condition is only for certain businesses (listed in Executive Order 4.a and 4.b) and must meet certain conditions to allow for the delay. For businesses that don’t fall under the 4.a and 4.b of Executive Order 20-65, they must comply with the requirements and deadlines set in the COVID-19 Temporary Standards. There are instances where Oregon OSHA may make a different determination. To help businesses understand the new guidance, a fact sheet was released about the Provisions with Delayed Effective Dates. KPA recommends businesses strive to meet the deadlines originally set forth by Oregon OSHA.

Update 11/25/20: Oregon OSHA issued two additional resources for employers: the Temporary Rule Addressing The COVID-19 Workplace Risks Questions and Answers (dated 11/23/2020) and the COVID-19 Temporary Standard for All Workplaces Fact Sheet (dated 11/24/2020) released.

Update 11/16/20: Oregon OSHA released a Model Policy for Notification of Employees When COVID-19 Exposure Occurs. The model policy can be found in English and Spanish.

On November 5, 2020, Oregon OSHA adopted COVID-19 temporary standards to protect workers from the virus. As an employer, you are now liable for any noncompliance to COVID-19-related safety practices and standards.

Effective: November 16, 2020 to May 4, 2021

The adopted temporary rule states that all workplaces are responsible for:

  • By November 16, 2020: Posting the Oregon OSHA’s COVID-19 Hazards Poster (English Spanish).
  • Ensuring employees practice social distancing throughout the course of their tasks and movement.
  • Providing employees with face coverings and requiring all workers, visitors, and customers to wear a face covering when on-site. This requirement also extends to workers driving in the same vehicle.
  • Ensuring high-contact surfaces are sanitized frequently.
  • By December 7, 2020: Developing and implementing an infection control plan. Employers with more than 10 employees must have written documentation of their plan and make it accessible to employees.
  • By December 7, 2020: Conducting a COVID-19 exposure risk assessment.
  • By December 21, 2020: Training employees on how to prevent or reduce infection, social distancing, sanitation and hygiene procedures, and infection notification process.
  • By January 6, 2021: Assessing workplace indoor air quality effectiveness and ensure ventilation changes are made.


  • Print and post the Oregon OSHA’s COVID-19 Temporary Standard for All Workplaces (English Spanish
  • Conduct a COVID-19 Risk Assessment, review your Infection Control Plan, and your indoor ventilation system. Review and audit your current practices, identify areas for improvement, and additional protocols you may need to implement.
  • Review the final language with your legal counsel to ensure you have a clear understanding of what is required of employers. 
  • Work and communicate with your employees about the importance of a safe work environment. Train them on the proper procedures you’ve put in place.

Additional Resources

Oregon OSHA Infectious Disease Rulemaking

Oregon OSHA’s Proposal on Rules Addressing the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency in All Oregon Workplaces January 2021

Temporary Rule

Overview Table

Exposure Risk Assessment Form

Update 6/30/21: Face Covering Mandate

Update 6/30/21: Through Executive Order No. 21-15, and starting June 30, 2021, Governor Brown ended Executive Order 20-66, which authorized the statewide mask mandate, as well as several orders for social distancing, capacity, etc.

Update 5/21/21: In alignment with the CDC, Governor Kate Brown announced that Oregon will be following suit and lifting the mask mandates for fully vaccinated people. The Oregon Health Authority issued guidance on May 18, 2021, outlining the new guidance. These people no longer have to wear face coverings in crowds or most indoor spaces. Masks will still be required in crowded indoor spaces, like buses, planes, hospitals, prisons, and shelters. Businesses, faith-based institutions, employers, and venues may enforce stricter policies at their own discretion. They are responsible for enforcing the current mask mandate unless they implement policies and procedures for checking vaccination status for everyone on-site. In the case of the latter scenario, those people (customers, visitors, employees, etc.) would be able to go maskless if they show proof of vaccination.

OHA also updated its website and developed an infographic to help understand the new changes.

Update 11/20/20: Oregon issued new face mask guidance for employers with its Statewide Freeze Guidance – Masks, Face Coverings, Face Shields (November 18, 2020) and Statewide Freeze Guidance – General Guidance for Employers (November 18, 2020). Employers must comply with the most recent Oregon OSHA emergency temporary standards, comply with the Statewide Freeze Guidance (see first link), continue to assess their work environment, and provide masks and face coverings to employees at no cost to employees who don’t have one.

Face shields should be worn on a limited basis, and shouldn’t be worn alone without a face covering or face mask. Face shields may be used in limited situations, provided on page 3 of the Statewide Freeze Guidance – Masks, Face Coverings, Face Shields (November 18, 2020).

Update 10/21/2020: Revisions were made to the Statewide Mask, Face Covering, Face Shield Guidance to require face coverings inside and outside of all private or public workplaces.

Update 8/13/20: Statewide Guidance on Masks, Face Coverings, and Face Shields was issued for all state residents and businesses outlining what everyone is responsible for in public indoor and outdoor spaces as well as private office spaces.

Under Executive Order 20-30, effective July 1, 2020, all Oregon residents are required to wear a face covering in indoor public spaces. Exceptions to the rule include people with disabilities, medical conditions, or children under 12.

Businesses are encouraged to provide face covering supplies to customers and to work with employees who interact with the public on how to interact with customers who aren’t wearing face coverings or choose not to wear one in the business facility.

Additional Resources

Executive Order No. 21-15

Executive Order 20-30

Statewide Mask, Shield, Face Covering Guidance

Oregon Health Authority Website

Face Covering Facts

Building a Safe and Strong Oregon Website

Oregon OSHA COVID-19 Workplace Advisory Memo 6.27b

Unemployment Expansion

Who: Oregon employers and employees

When March 8, 2020 through September 12, 2020

What: The Oregon Employment Department issued new rules to soften the eligibility criteria for unemployment benefits related to COVID-19.

The following “COVID-19 related situations” will extend unemployment benefit support to workers impacted by the virus:

  • Workers who are unable to work because they are sick with COVID-19;
  • Workers who are unable to work because they have been subject to mandatory quarantined due to possible COVID-19 exposure;
  • Workers who are unable to work because, at the advice of their health care provider or by advice issued by public health officials to self-quarantine due to a possible risk of exposure to, or spread of, COVID-19;
  • Workers who are unable to work because their employer has stopped all operations because of COVID-19;
  • Workers who are unable to work because they have to stay at home to care for a child due to the closure of schools, child care providers, or similar facilities due to COVID-19; and
  • Workers who are being asked to work in violation of a mandatory quarantine or the Governor’s directives.

Although the above exceptions extend eligibility to employees affected by COVID-19, these individuals still need to meet unemployment benefit requirements including that they are able and available to work as well as actively seeking work.

People are not disqualified from receiving unemployment insurance benefits under the following circumstances:

  • The person is discharged because of a COVID-19 related situation;
  • The person quits work because of a COVID-19 related situation;
  • The person fails to apply for work when referred by the employment office or the direct because of a COVID-19 related situation; or
  • The person fails to accept an offer of work because of a COVID-19 related situation.

An individual will not be deemed “unable to work” if they are:

  • Quarantined by order of a health official or health care provider but aren’t sick
  • Homesick with COVID-19 or sick with similar symptoms, without turning down an offer to work
  • Hospitalized because of COVID-19 for less than half a week, without turning down an offer to work during that week.
  • Offered work and do not accept it because they are sick with COVID-19, or a condition with similar flu-like symptoms

A person is “actively seeking work” if their search efforts are impaired by COVID-19, or are unemployed because of a COVID-19-related situation, and:

  • They are their employer intend on the person resuming work for their employer when COVID-19 related situations permit and the person stays in contact with their employer, so they can return to work when the employer permits; or
  • They or their employer do not intent the employee to return to work for their employer and the person is doing what they can to find employment.

An individual won’t be deemed “unavailable to work” because they are

  • In quarantine or isolation as ordered by a health official or health care provider, even if their employer had work that they could have provided;
  • They are home solely because they lack childcare for a child or children de to school or daycare closures or curtailments; or
  • They are home to take care of a family member due to the effects of COVID-19.


  • Consult with your legal counsel as you make decisions regarding employment.
  • Consider whether your business should participate in Oregon’s Work Share Program
  • As you make employment changes, provide support to your employees, educate them about their options, and make yourself available to answer their questions and concerns.
  • There may be potential discrepancies between state and local orders. If you believe there may be a discrepancy affecting you or your business, you should contact your local government and/or competent local counsel for further advice.

Additional Resources

Executive Order No. 20-03

Employment Department Temporary Rules for Unemployment Insurance Benefits Flexibility

COVID-19 Related Business Layoffs, Closures, and Unemployment Insurance Benefits

Paid Sick Leave

Who: Oregon employers and employees

What: Oregon Paid Sick Leave (OPSL) applies to employers with 6 or more employees in Portland and employers outside of Portland with 10 or more employees. Employers must provide a minimum of 40 hours of paid sick leave/year either at a rate of 1 hour for every 30 hours worked or front-loaded at the beginning of the year.

OPSL is available to employees if:

  • They or a family member becomes sick, injured, is experiencing mental illness, or needs to visit a health care professional.
  • They have to care for their child if the child’s school or care provider has closed because of a public health emergency. If the employee doesn’t have paid leave available, unpaid time off option may be available through the Oregon Family Leave Act.
  • If employers temporarily shut down the business because of a public health emergency.

If an employee is terminated, employers don’t have to pay out accrued sick time. If employees are rehired within 180 days, employers must restore all unused paid sick leave and the employee’s eligibility to OPSL.

If an employee wants to save their sick leave, employees can stay home on unpaid leave.

The Oregon Family Leave Act (OFLA) may also be helpful for some employees. Employers with 25 or more employees must provide up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave, through OFLA, to care for themselves or their family members with a serious medical condition. If the employee has used up all of their available sick time, they may qualify for 12 weeks of protected OFLA serious health condition or sick child leave.

Considering COVID-19, this leave may be help an employee who becomes sick with COVID-19 or needs to care for a family member who is ill. Caring for a child whose school or childcare facility has closed because of a public health order is also protected by OFLA.


  • Review and update your leave policies as needed; educate your employees about their options as necessary.
  • There may be potential discrepancies between state and local orders. If you believe there may be a discrepancy affecting you or your business, you should contact your local government and/or competent local counsel for further advice.

Additional Resources

Oregon Paid Sick Leave

Oregon Sick Time Poster

Oregon Sick Time FAQs

Oregon HR and Workplace Compliance Rules and Regulations

Oregon OSHA Issues Temporary Heat Illness Prevention Standard

Who: Oregon employers

When: Effective immediately

What: On July 8, 2021, the Oregon Occupational Safety and Health Administration adopted “Temporary Rules to address Employee Exposure to High Ambient Temperatures,” which apply when the temperature in the work area is 80 degrees Fahrenheit or higher. The emergency rules will remain in effect until Oregon OSHA issues permanent rules, as directed under Executive Order 20-04 on March 10, 2020. Governor Kate Brown ordered OSHA to issue temporary rules in the wake of record-setting heat in June 2021.

The standard applies to indoor and outdoor environments. Exceptions to the rules are:

  • Incidental exposure of less than 15 minutes of work activity in any 60-minute period;
  • Transportation of employees inside vehicles if they are not performing work activities; and
  • Where other standards apply, such as when the heat is generated solely by the work process. (When there are conflicting standards, employers must follow the stricter standard.)

Per this temporary standard, when temperatures reach 80 degrees, employers must provide 32 ounces of drinking water per employee per hour and access to shade or other suitable cooling measures.

When temperatures reach 90 degrees, employers must:

  • Have in place an effective communication system that allows for observation and monitoring for heat illness;
  • Designate at least one employee per worksite who is authorized to call for emergency medical services;
  • Ensure that employees take a 10-minute rest break every two hours, at a minimum;
  • Allow employees to acclimatize to the heat, which allows for gradual exposure and adaptation;
  • Have in place an emergency medical plan that addresses specific topics, such as what to do if an employee shows or reports signs of heat illness and how to contact emergency medical services; and
  • When an employee shows or reports signs of heat illness:
    • Relieve that employee from duty;
    • Provide a way to reduce body temperature;
    • Monitor the employee; and
    • Offer onsite first aid or access to emergency medical services.

No later than August 1, 2021, employers must train all employees—in a language they readily understand—on specific topics as outlined in the standard:

  • Environmental and personal risk factors for heat illness;
  • Employee and employer rights and obligations under the heat standard;
  • Effective acclimatization practices;
  • Importance of immediately reporting signs or symptoms of illness;
  • Factors that affect a person’s tolerance of heat stress; and
  • Common signs and symptoms of different types of heat-related illness.


  • Update your policies and practices to ensure they comply with the new standard.
  • Train all employees and supervisors on the standard no later than August 1, 2021.

Additional Resources:

Administrative Order 6-2021

Adoption of Temporary Rules to Address Employee Exposure to High Ambient Temperatures (July 8, 2021)

Effective Immediately: Whistleblower Protection Law Amended

Who: Oregon employers

When: Effective immediately

What: On June 15, 2021, Oregon Governor Kate Brown signed SB 483, which amends the Oregon Safe Employment Act. Effective immediately, employers may not discriminate or retaliate against any employee or prospective employee who lodges a complaint against an employer on the grounds of workplace safety hazards or violations. The law encourages employees to notify their employer of any violation of a law, regulation, or standard related to safety or health in the workplace.

The law now includes a rebuttable presumption of discrimination or retaliation if an employee or prospective employee experiences a negative employment action within 60 days of engaging in the protected activity.


  • Update your anti-retaliation policies according to the law.

Additional Resources:

SB 483

Washington HR and Workplace Compliance Rules and Regulations

November 1: Washington State Requires Employers to Collect Employee Insurance Premiums for Long-Term Care

Who: Washington employers

When: Effective November 1, 2021

What: On April 21, 2021, Washington Governor Jay Inslee signed the Long-Term Services and Supports (LTSS) Trust Act, which created the WA Cares Fund and thereby established the first-ever state-run long-term care (LTC) insurance program for workers.

Employees who want to opt out of the WA Cares Fund must secure sufficient private long-term care insurance by November 1, 2021. They must then apply for and receive an exemption from the Employment Security Department by December 31, 2022. Employees who receive an exemption must submit written notification to their employers, and employers must retain those notifications. Employees who opt out may not opt back in to the program.


  • Notify employees of the upcoming deadline for opt-out.

Additional Resources:

WA Cares Fund

SB 1323 RCW 50B.04

Washington State OSHA Issues Emergency Heat Exposure Rules

Who: Washington employers

When: Effective immediately

What: On July 9, 2021, Washington state announced emergency rules that update the existing Outdoor Heat Exposure mandates. The new rules went into effect on July 13, 2021, in response to a record-breaking heatwave, and will remain in effect through September 30, 2021.

Per the emergency rules, when the temperature is at or above 89 degrees in the work environment, employers must:

  • Provide water that is cool enough to drink safely;
  • Take appropriate action when an employee has symptoms of heat-related illness; and
  • Allow (and encourage) workers to take additional paid rests to protect themselves from overheating.

In addition, employers must plan ahead and have a written Outdoor Heat Exposure Prevention Plan in place and have already trained their employees regarding the new rules.

When temperatures reach 100 degrees, employers must:

  • Provide shade or other suitable means to cool down, and
  • Ensure that employees take at least a 10-minute paid rest break every two hours.


  • Update your policies and practices to ensure they comply with the new rules.
  • Train all employees and supervisors on the rules.

Additional Resources:

Emergency Rules

Be Heat Smart! Your Outdoor Heat Safety Program

January 1: New Minimum Salary Thresholds for Overtime for Exempt Workers

Who: Washington State employers with exempt workers

When: Effective January 1, 2021

What: The Washington State Department of Labor & Industries has issued new minimum salary thresholds for overtime-exempt employees for 2021. Salary thresholds for exempt employees are as follows:

  • $821.40 per week ($42,712.80 per year) for businesses with 1 to 50 employees (i.e., at least 1.5 times the state’s minimum wage);
  • $958.30 per week ($49,831.60 per year) for businesses with 51 or more employees (i.e., at least 1.75 times the state’s minimum wage).

The new minimum wage also changes the salary thresholds for computer professionals paid by the hour. The state’s threshold is higher than the federal threshold of $35,568 per year in all cases.


  • Analyze which exempt employees’ salaries will not meet the 2021 state threshold. Determine whether you will increase their salaries or transition them to nonexempt status.
  • Work with payroll personnel to prepare for new 2021 salary levels and exempt/nonexempt status as appropriate.

Additional Resources:

WAC 296-128 sections 500–545

Salary Threshold Implementation Schedule

Hourly Computer Professional Phase-in Schedule

Changes Made to Washington’s Overtime Rules

Overtime Rules Resources

Changes to Overtime Rules Q&A

Washington COVID-19 State Regulations

Updated 6/30/21: Face Covering Ends for Fully Vaccinated People(And Social Distancing)

Update 6/30/21: In an effort to align with federal CDC guidance, the Washington State Department of Labor & Industries released new guidance for Mask and Distancing Requirements are Changing: Key COVID-19 Updates for Fully Vaccinated Workers (June 14, 2021). The changes, which don’t apply to settings that fall under the federal requirements, include:

  • Ending mask requirements and social distancing for fully vaccinated workers, unless otherwise directed by their employer or health agency.
  • Employers must confirm that employees are fully vaccinated, either by signing a document or providing proof of vaccination. Employer must do this before they end their workplace requirements for masks or social distancing. Employers have to be able to verify this information if a worker is found without a mask or keeping social distance.
  • Acceptable vaccination documentation can include: CDC vaccination card, a picture of the immunization card, healt care provider documentation, or a document from the state immunization system.

Employers can’t retaliate or discriminate against employees seeking accommodation. They must be sure that to comply with other state and federal laws when implementing a vaccination verification procedure. They may also choose to require masks and must allow employees to wear a mask or other PPE if they choose to, regardless of vaccination.

Unvaccinated people are required to wear face masks in all public settings. Employers must continue to use face mask and social distancing requirements if any employee isn’t vaccinated, or if their status is unknown.

What Should You Do?

  • Review and update your current policies and procedures to comply with the latest guidance.
  • Work with legal counsel to ensure that you vaccination verification process complies with all federal and state laws.

Update 5/24/21: On May 13, 2021, Governor Inslee announced that the state will be aligning its face mask guidance with the CDC. People who are fully vaccinated will not have to wear a mask, while those who are unvaccinated should continue to wear a mask and maintain social distance. Businesses and employers may mandate face masks.

If employers choose to end mask mandates, they must confirm that workers are fully vaccinated either by providing proof or signing a document that attests to their vaccination status. Employers must be able to demonstrate they have verified vaccine status for employees who aren’t wearing masks or practicing social distance. Verification could be a log of workers that states verification and includes the date of verification, daily vaccination checks, labeling a worker’s badge or credential to display vaccination or other similar methods. Read more on the Mask and Distancing Requirements Are Changing fact sheet.

Update 7/24/20: An Order from the Secretary of Health declared that face coverings must be worn in common areas in apartments, nursery homes, hotels, and university housing in the hallways and elevators effective July 25, 2020. Additionally, everyone must wear a face covering in public and non-public settings including outdoor areas, hallways, and stairwells, garages, kitchens, etc.

As of June 26, 2020, residents must wear a face covering while out in public,  which includes indoor and outside public spaces. Exemptions are outlined in the Order of the Secretary of Health 20-03 on page 2.

Businesses must also require all employees and customers to wear a face covering and businesses can refuse to serve customers that don’t comply.

Additional Resources

Mask and Distancing Requirements Are Changing

Order Of The Secretary of Health 20-03.1 Face Coverings

Order of the Secretary of Health 20-03 Face Coverings

Washington State Department of Health Face Cloth Coverings

Face Masks or Cloth Face Coverings

Paid Family Leave Amended with Temporary Pandemic Leave Assistance Grants


  • Employers with 150 employees or less
  • Employers with 50 employees or less who pay the employer Paid Family and Medical Leave premiums
  • Employers who run a voluntary plan are NOT eligible for grants

When: Grant applications are August 1, 2021 to June 30, 2023

What: The state legislature has changed Washington Paid Family and Medical Leave Act (PFML) to temporarily create pandemic leave assistance grants for eligible employees and employers.

Normally, employees are eligible for PFML if they have a serious health condition and completed 820 hours of work in a qualifying period. A “qualifying period” is defined as either the first 4 quarters of the last five quarters of a calendar year or the last four completed quarters in a calendar year prior to the leave application date.

The amendment creates grants that are based on employees’ hours worked in 2019 and the part of 2020 before the pandemic. Employees are eligible for pandemic leave assistance grants if they have an effective start date at any time in 2021 through March 31, 2022 but don’t meet the hours worked requirements because of the pandemic. They’ll be eligible for the grants if they worked 820 hours in 2019 or worked 820 hours between the second and fourth quarters of 2019 and the first quarter of 2020.

Employees aren’t eligible if they were separated from employment because of misconduct or a voluntary separation for a COVID-19 reason.

Temporary workers that are hired to replace an employee on PFML leave for seven days or more, may receive a grant of $3,000. Employers may receive grants of up to $1,000 for employees’ PFML that creates significant wage-related costs.

Additional Resources

Paid Leave Under the Washington Family Care Act and the Families First Coronavirus Response Act

Washington COVID-19 Resources

Washington Department of Health

Washington Proclamations

“High Risk” Employees Receive Additional Protections

Who: Washington employers and employees considered “high risk”

When: Effective immediately through June 12, 2020

What: Governor Jay Inslee released a proclamation restricting employers from doing certain things that could put their “high risk” employees at even higher risks. “High risk” is defined by the CDC and includes any employee with an underlying medical condition (e.g., diabetes, heart or lung conditions) or is 65 years old or older.

Employers may require an employee provide medical documentation, although employers should be accepting of any delays due to the pandemic. Employers should not delay accommodating employees because of a delay in medical documentation.

Under this proclamation, employers must:

  • Identify and use alternative work options, like working from home or social distancing, to protect these employees;
  • Allow “high risk” employees who can’t use alternative work options to use approved accrued leave or unemployment in any type of schedule the employee needs;
  • Keep employer-related health insurance active for “high risk” employees who have used all of their accrued leave, until they can return to work; and
  • Not take any adverse action against “high risk” employees for taking time off.

The proclamation also prohibits all employers and labor unions from enforcing contracts that contradict or interfere with the proclamation and/or or its intent.


  • Work with your onsite employees to determine who may be at “high risk” and need further accommodations.
  • Base accommodations on each employees’ job and what they are comfortable doing
  • Review your health insurance benefit policies and procedures to ensure they will continue to accommodate any “high risk” employees who may need continued coverage during leave.
  • Ensure all managers are aware of the proclamation and take steps to ensure compliance.

Additional Resources

Amending Proclamation 20-05

Washington Paid Sick Leave and Coronavirus Common Questions

Governor Jay Inslee’s Proclamations

Back to Workplace Safety Rules>>>

About The Author

Emily Hartman

Emily is a Marketing Manager here at KPA. She’s using the mad communications skills she learned in Washington, D.C., to break down technical information into news you can use.

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