Washington state legislative session

The 2021 Washington state legislative session is currently in progress. The session is 105 days and will end April 25, 2021. We are currently monitoring the status of the following employment and labor law bills.

General HR Legislation

HB 1076 

Allowing whistleblowers to bring actions on behalf of the state for violations of workplace protections.

SB 5115

Establishing health emergency labor standards. This bill would require creation of a workplace infectious disease standard and establish new employment standards during a pandemic (including: presumption for worker’s compensation coverage; accommodate employees’ voluntary use of PPE; protection from retaliation or discrimination; additional reporting requirements; lower the eligibility threshold for paid family and medical leave; provide a higher minimum wage for frontline workers; require additional paid sick leave; require paid childcare leave.)

SB 5172

Concerning the retroactivity of overtime claims in exceptional cases. This bill would limit the retroactive effect of court decisions concerning overtime wage claims when the award would create a substantially inequitable result.

HB 1206

Protecting temporary workers. This bill establishes specific standards for staffing agencies and worksite employers regarding training, assessing hazards, sharing information, and other requirements. 

SB 5278

Concerning the protection of construction worker wages and benefits. This bill would make general contractors independently liable for all subcontractor wages even if the general already paid. 

unemployment insurance

ESSB 5061 - Signed into law on 2/8/2021

This is concerning unemployment insurance. It reduces the social tax rate, suspends the solvency tax through 2025, makes all claims from March 22, 2020, to May 2, 2020, non-charageable to individual employers and increases the weekly minimum benefit from 15% to 20% of the average weekly wage, among other changes.

SSB 5064

Concerning qualifications for unemployment insurance when an individual voluntarily leaves work. 

HB 1492 

Concerning unemployment extended benefits where there is a state of emergency and waves some requirements for waiting periods.

HB 1493

Concerning job search monitoring. Allows the employment security department to adjust job search requirements on an as needed basis.  

HB 1472

Strengthening penalty and audit tools for employer violations in unemployment insurance. This bill would make it a violation for any employer to misclassify an individual as an independent contractor even if they believed they were correctly classified.

Workers Compensation

SB 5046

Concerning workers' compensation claim resolution settlement agreements. This bill will allow settlements to be paid out in a lump sum or a structured basis.

SB 5137

Suspending workers' compensation cost-of-living adjustments for fiscal year 2022, changing the basis of certain future adjustments to the consumer price index, and capping the rate of increase for future adjustments.

SB 5190

Providing health care workers with presumptive benefits during a public health emergency.

 

Paid Family & Medical Leave

Expanding coverage of the paid family and medical leave program. This bill will temporarily adjust the requirements to access paid family and medical leave benefits if a workers job was impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. It will also expand the definition of a "family member" to include room mates and other non-familial relationships. 

 

Expanding coverage of the paid family and medical leave program. This bill will expand the definition of a "family member" to include room mates and other non-familial relationships and provide greater access to job-protection and benefits continuation.