Inslee signs ‘Safe Workers’ proclamation, details employee vaccination rules

Washington Governor Jay Inslee
Ted S. Warren
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee looks down at a stack of bills to be signed into law, Wednesday, May 12, 2021, at the Capitol in Olympia, Wash.

OLYMPIA, Wash. — On Friday, Washington Governor Jay Inslee signed Proclamation 21-08, more commonly known as the ‘Safe Workers‘ proclamation, which protects employees who want to get vaccinated.

According to a release issued by the Governor’s Office this afternoon, workers who wish to be vaccinated or who are in isolation or quarantine will be protected from adverse actions by their employers. Under the proclamation, employers cannot take inauspicious action against employees in any of the following events:

  • 1) Receiving the COVID-19 vaccination;
  • 2) Taking a reasonable period of time off, whether unpaid, paid, or otherwise available through the employment arrangement, (a) To receive the COVID-19 vaccination; or (b) To recover from side effects of the vaccine.
  • 3) Taking time off, whether unpaid, paid, or otherwise available through the employment arrangement, when the worker is:
    • (a) Subject to a federal, state, or local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19;
    • (b) Advised by a health care official or provider to self-quarantine or self-isolate due to concerns related to or a positive diagnosis of COVID-19; or
    • (c) Experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and is seeking a medical diagnosis or treatment.

RELATED: Washington DOH to transition from mass vaccination sites to mobile clinics

“We call on Washington employers to remain vigilant in their promotion of employee vaccinations, and this proclamation will alleviate another barrier to vaccine access,” Inslee said.

Meanwhile, the Governor updated ‘Healthy Washington’ guidelines to reflect the state’s decision to follow the CDC’s recommendation that fully vaccinated individuals do not need to wear masks besides in specific locations (health care settings, correctional facilities, homeless shelters, schools, and public transportation).

Businesses may adopt the “honor system” by assuming that any unmasked customer has been fully vaccinated and is following those guidelines. However, business owners have the right to uphold a mask mandate if they choose to do so. Similarly, business owners have the right to require their employees to wear asks while at work — Even if they have been vaccinated.

Before employees in Washington State can resume working without a mask, the business must obtain proof of vaccination or obtain a self-attestation from the employee.

For more information on these changes, click here.

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