Business & Worker Update: Aug. 19, 2020

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aug. 19, 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?

Aug. 19, 2020


Updates to "Personal Services" rules require masking of both customer and service provider

Business activity requirements for "Personal Services" applies to cosmetologists, hairstylists, manicurists, tanning salons, makeup and tattoo artists, and other similar categories. New language clarifies that all customers of these businesses must wear a face covering unless directed by a medical professional who says otherwise. That means that certain services such as facials or beard trimmings are no longer permitted.


Recent updates for agricultural events, religious organizations, fitness centers and gatherings

Requirements for religious and faith-based organizations and indoor fitness and training have been updated recently. Requirements for agricultural events were recently announced to apply to livestock and horse exhibitions as well as companion animal shows. An FAQ document was published recently to clarify some details related to gatherings, food and alcohol service and events.


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…

Social Gatherings vs. Business Activity


Social gatherings must not exceed 5 persons in Modified Phases 1 and 2, or 10 persons in Phase 3

A gathering refers to a social setting in which non-household members convene, indoors or outside. Social gatherings are a leading vector of COVID-19; sustained close contact with non-household members is known to be a source of spread.


Business activity is treated differently than social activity

By contrast, business activity generally refers to commercial activity or organized events. Business activity is limited  by a percentage of capacity or a standard for social distancing on their own property. If not in their place of business, then they must abide by the above gathering limits for their respective county. Weddings and funerals, religious organizations and restaurants have specific regulations that take precedence over gathering limits.

What you need to know about…

Employee Mental Health and Happiness


Back-to-school stress may affect employees

As working parents confront the uncertainty of the school year, anxiety and stress may manifest at work. If your company offers schedule flexibility, remote work flexibility, or employee assistance programs, it may be helpful to review those benefits with employees now to allow working parents to plan ahead.


When you need to vent, Washington Listens.

The Washington Listens program offers a nonclinical support hotline at 1-833-681-0211 as well as online resources. Feel free to vent about stress at work or general anxiety - trained specialists will listen and offer pointers when possible. The program is totally anonymous - no identifying information is needed.

What you need to know about…

Worker Safety


Employees exempt from the mask requirement must provide documentation

Employees with a medical issue or disability complicating mask use must furnish an accommodation statement from their medical professional. Employers may not simply allow the employee to work without a mask with no other mitigations in place.


Basic face shields do not sufficiently meet the face covering requirement

Face shields protect the wearer from particles but do not sufficiently inhibit the travel of particles from the wearer. Only face shields with a cloth attachment to inhibit particles meet the workplace face covering requirement.

L & I safety

What you need to know about…



No update yet available on expanded unemployment benefits

Although an executive order was signed by President Trump on August 8th to augment unemployment benefits, claimants will not yet see an increased benefit. Washington State is assessing the Presidential Memorandum. Refer to the Employment Security Department website and social media for developments.


Washington unemployment claims decreasing

The latest ESD Weekly Unemployment Claims Report shows a decline in the number of Washingtonians collecting unemployment benefits. The week ending on August 8 indicated 85,000 fewer active claims than the week prior - a reduction of 13%. Weekly new claims have steadily dropped since early July but remain four times higher than pre-pandemic levels. Nationally, the unemployment rate decreased from 11.1% to 10.2% from June to July.


Extra step required to submit Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) weekly claim

Claimants receiving Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) should be aware of a recent procedural change. Every week a claim is submitted, the Employment Security Department (ESD) must certify eligibility. ESD will ask claimants to confirm that they are unemployed, partially unemployed, unable to work, or unavailable to work for approved COVID-19 reasons as required by federal law. ESD recommends submitting weekly claims through the online eServices interface where the additional questions have been added.


Looking for your next opportunity?

WorkSource is here to help. Refine your skills, learn new ones and land a job with the help of WorkSource’s dedicated experts. Join an online workshop and get virtual help at Join a virtual job fair to connect directly with organizations and employers. Explore available opportunities and participate in 1-on-1 chats with representatives from participating organizations. Share your background and experience and get all your questions answered!


Small business webinars feature need-to-know info, question-and-answer time

This monthly webinar series contains up-to-date information specific to Washington small businesses. The sessions feature brief presentations from state and federal partners and dedicated open-mic Q&A time. Topics include unemployment insurance, returning employees to work, PPP and EIDL loans, workplace safety, face covering requirements, and other topics important to employers. The next webinar will be held on Sept. 9 at 1:30 p.m. and the next Spanish-language webinar will be held on Aug. 27 at 4 p.m.

What you need to know about…

Agriculture relief funding and programming


Relief efforts announced for agricultural workers immigrants

In response to COVID-19, Governor Inslee has directed the procurement and distribution of PPE, cloth face coverings and sanitation supplies to reach agricultural workers. Additionally, the Food Production Paid Leave Program will offer leave to food production workers that remain home when ill.