Business & Worker Update: July 2, 2020

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July 2, 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?

July 2, 2020


What you need to know about…

Universal Masking


Masks are now required universally in Washington state

All people in Washington state must wear a face covering in any indoor or outdoor public area. Children under two should not wear a face covering. People unable to wear a face covering for medical reasons are not required to. The mask may be removed to eat, drink, or communicate with someone who is deaf or hard of hearing. Disregard of the order may result in a misdemeanor charge, punishable by a fine of up to $100 and/or up to 90 days in county jail.


Free face coverings are available to all low-income Washingtonians

The Washington State Emergency Management Division has purchased 3.6 million cloth face coverings to be distributed to Washingtonians at or below 200% of the federal poverty level ($52,400 annual income for a family of four). Interested and eligible persons may pick up a cloth face covering at a local emergency management office.

"We're making progress. That is good news, but we're not at the end of the road. We've got to make sure we're wearing face masks and keeping up social distancing."

Jim Mattis, 26th United States Secretary of Defense

What you need to know about…

Safe Start Progress


County progressions to Phase 4 paused

Citing increased virus activity across the state, Governor Jay Inslee and Secretary of Health John Wiesman announced a temporary pause on all moves to Phase 4 until further notice. Seventeen counties are currently in Phase 3 of the Safe Start plan and must wait indefinitely to open further. Applications for advancement to Phases 2 and 3 are still being processed - only Phase 4 applications are on hold. Review permitted activities for each phase on the "What's Open in Each Phase" webpage.


New guidance for weddings, funerals, and memorial services

Weddings, funerals, and memorial services are now permitted to resume. Organizers must adhere to related guidance issued for religious gatherings, food service, and Safe Start permissible activities.

What you need to know about…

Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDLs)


EIDLs are low-interest, long-term loans available to small businesses and nonprofits

SBA expanded the eligibility criteria for the EIDL program earlier in June. Small businesses may check eligibility and apply for an EIDL on the U.S. Small Business Administration website. Interest rates are 3.75% for small businesses, 2.75% for nonprofits.


EIDLs may be used to pay debts, payroll, accounts payable and other bills

EIDLs may be used on common operational expenses that cannot be paid due to effects of the pandemic. EIDLs can be used with expenses not already covered by Paycheck Protection Program loans. Businesses and nonprofits can use a combination of PPP and EIDL loans as long as the funds are used for different expenses.


The EIDL Advance emergency grant may provide up to $10,000 to small businesses

Small business owners are able to apply for an Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) Advance of up to $10,000. This advance is designed to provide economic relief to businesses that are currently experiencing a temporary loss of revenue. This loan advance will not have to be repaid.

What you need to know about…

Unemployment in Washington State


Inbound calls remain limited as ESD processes backlog.

Inbound calls to the Employment Security Department (ESD) will remain limited until July 2. As of June 24, 71,679 claims remain open. ESD intends to resolve the longest-waiting 10,000 applicants by July 6, the longest-waiting 33,000 applicants by July 13, and all remaining applicants by July 31.


Extraordinary claim volumes may require federal funding to support.

ESD previewed their upcoming Unemployment Trust Fund Forecast by saying that the department may utilize an interest-free federal loan by the end of the year to continue to pay benefits. Washington State began the crisis with one of the strongest trust funds in the nation, but initial claim volumes 450% higher than the prior year and surging local unemployment rates have resulted in over $6.5 billion in benefits paid out to date.


ESD prepares answers for common return-to-work questions.

The Employment Security Department has created FAQ pages that address common questions about returning to work and refusing to work. Workers may refuse work and potentially claim benefits if they have a "good cause" reason, such as having a high risk of COVID-19 related complications, sharing a household with person at high risk, providing direct care for a person at high risk, or if the worksite does not follow applicable safety guidelines.


What you need to know about…

Worker's Rights and Workplace Safety


Changes in overtime rules take effect July 1

When a "job duties test" classifies a worker as administrative, executive, professional, computer professional, or outside salesperson, the worker may be exempt from overtime if their salary exceeds a threshold. Recent changes better align the job duties test with federal standards and establish incremental increases in the salary threshold. While most salaried employees in Washington will not be affected in 2020, employers should review the updated rules for effects on their workforce.


Furloughs at the Department of Labor & Industries will not interrupt safety inspections

All Washington State agencies will be subject to significant furloughs through July. L&I services vital to public health and safety are not subject to the furlough, however. Occupational Safety and Health inspectors will continue to perform inspections and address complaints regarding violations of Safe Start and other workplace safety measures.

What you need to know about…

Small Business Relief Funding and Educational Programming


$10 Million in Working Washington grants was distributed to small businesses

After processing more than 26,000 applications, 1,000 small businesses in Washington state with 10 or fewer employees were selected to receive Working Washington grant funding. An estimated 5,300 jobs were saved by these grants.


$163 million in federal funding to be applied to Washington economic recovery efforts

The Washington State Department of Commerce will distribute $163 million in CARES Act and FEMA funding to provide aid to those most affected by the economic fallout of the pandemic. $100 million will be allocated for rent assistance, $20 million for small business and local economic development supports, $20 million for operating grants for nonprofits, and $20 million to assist Tribes with recovery efforts.


Requirements and Resources for Small Businesses Webinar

This webinar series offers information specific to small businesses and a panel of state agency representatives to respond to live Q&A on UI, Return to Work, PPP – many things employers need to know. The next webinar will be held on July 7 at 5:30 p.m.