ESSB 6189 Additional Guidance

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Last month, the SEBB Program sent a bulletin about maintaining benefits during the COVID-19 public health emergency. The bulletin informed school districts that—in accordance with Senate Bill 6189—benefits must be maintained into the 2020-21 school year for employees who had eligibility for the employer contribution toward SEBB benefits as of February 29, 2020. That is the date Governor Inslee declared a state of emergency.

The guidance provided last month has not changed: the protections in SB 6189 continue until Governor Inslee’s state of emergency is lifted. The purpose of these protections is to help ensure school employees and their dependents can continue to access quality, affordable health care coverage during the pandemic.

This bulletin provides additional guidance regarding SB 6189 and eligibility as the next school year approaches.

Who does SB 6189 apply to?

The law applies to school employees who had eligibility for the employer contribution toward SEBB benefits as of February 29, 2020.

School employees who gained eligibility for the employer contribution toward SEBB benefits on March 1, 2020, or later are not protected by SB 6189. These employees are subject to regular SEBB eligibility rules.

What are the protections under SB 6189?

SB 6189 ensures continued employer contributions for applicable employees, who otherwise would lose eligibility for the employer contribution under SEBB’s regular rules, during the following circumstances directly related to or in response to COVID-19:

  • During any school closures or changes in school operations for the school employee;
  • While the school employee is quarantined or required to care for a quarantined family member; or
  • When the employee is taking care of a child when the child’s school/child care is closed or when the child’s regular child care provider is unable to provide services.

When does an employment relationship end?

As indicated in the previous bulletin, SEBB Organizations must continue to provide the employer contribution toward SEBB benefits for employees who qualify for the protections of SB 6189 unless the employment relationship terminates. The SEBB Organization determines when the employment relationship has ended with an employee.