Current COVID-19 Work, Stay Home Order, and Leave Guidance
As the rapidly changing situation continues to unfold, we want to ensure that you continue to get timely guidance on work and leave issues. We recognize many employees across the County may be working modified schedules and working remotely, and that some may be unable to work in the coming weeks and months. Below is current guidance to help you navigate options.
First and foremost, we want to thank our essential employees who must be physically on-site in their regular workplace or designated workplace, to perform essential functions on behalf of the County. Employees who have any questions about their status as essential personnel should contact their supervisors for clarification. We want to provide the fullest support and appreciation to these employees as they continue to perform their regular duties.
Q. Do I have to wear a face covering to work?
A. Yes, in accordance with the Order of the Secretary of Health 20-03 signed on June 24, 2020, every person must wear a face covering that covers their nose and mouth when in any indoor or outdoor public setting with certain exceptions as stated in the Order such as when a minimum of six feet of physical separation from other persons can be reliably and consistently maintained. Any exemption from this policy may require certification from a doctor and request for accommodation. If you have concerns about your ability to wear a face covering, please contact your supervisor.
Q: What constitutes a face covering?
A: A face covering is a piece of fabric which covers your nose and mouth. Examples of appropriate face coverings include a cloth mask, multiple layers of fabric tied around your head, or a bandana. If a more protective face covering is required due to the type of work performed, those requirements should be followed.
Q. Will Pierce County be providing employees with face coverings?
A. Yes. In accordance with Safe Start Washington, effective June 8, 2020, employers must provide cloth face coverings to employees, unless their exposure dictates a higher level of protection under the Department of Labor and Industries’ (L&I) safety and health rules and guidance which may be found here. As such, while not considered Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), employees will be provided with either a commercial mask or handmade face covering. Employees may choose to wear their own face covering at work, provided it meets the minimum requirements and fits snugly against the sides of the face and covers the nose and mouth. Political statements, opinions, and advertisements are not allowed on employee face coverings. Face coverings should be kept clean at all times.
Q. Does working alone in a cubicle count as “alone in an office?”
A. It might. Employees’ cubicles will be evaluated on an individual basis. L&I defines “alone” as being isolated from interaction with other people and having little or no expectation of in-person interruption. Examples of working alone include:
- A person by themselves inside a vehicle.
- A person by themselves inside an office with four walls and a door.
- A person inside of a cubicle with 4 walls (one with an opening for an entryway) that are high enough to block the breathing zone of anyone walking by, and whose work activity will not require anyone to come inside of the cubicle.
- A person by themselves outside with no anticipated contact with others.
A. There are certain exemptions to the requirement to wear a face covering, including people with certain medical conditions for whom wearing a face covering could obstruct breathing and people who are deaf or hard of hearing. If you are unable to wear a disposable or cloth face covering due to a health condition, please contact Human Resources at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Q. If my position requires contact with members of the public, will the public be required to wear a face covering and can I refuse to serve a member of the public if they are not wearing a face covering?
A. Members of the public are required to wear a face covering. If a member of the public is not wearing a face covering when entering the building, a face covering should be offered. If the member of the public refuses to wear a mask, they should be asked if they have a medical condition. If they have a medical condition, we are required to serve them. If the member of the public does not have a medical condition and continues to refuse to wear a face covering, they should be directed to alternate means of accessing services.
You can use the following script as a suggested way to facilitate an interaction to offer a face mask:
- “Would you like a County supplied face covering? If so, I can provide you with one.”
- If the person declines: “May I ask if this is due to a medical condition?”
- If the answer is yes, allow service. If the answer is no: “We are prohibited from providing in-person service to members of the public who are not wearing a mask however, we have alternate means of accessing our services.”
The County is also providing other acceptable means of protection to employees including modifications to work areas such as protective barriers and 6-foot social distancing as alternatives for when it is necessary to be in contact with a member of the public who is not wearing a mask due to a medical exemption.
Q. My co-worker is not wearing a face covering, should I say something?
A. Some people have conditions or circumstances that would make wearing a cloth face covering difficult or even dangerous. Because of this, we do not recommend confronting your co-workers as any concerns regarding the ability of an employee to wear a face covering will be handled by the supervisor or above.
Q. Can I wear a face shield instead of a mask?
A. The Department of Labor and Industries has said that, while a face shield can reduce the spread of droplets during respiratory exhalations, coughs, and sneezing, it is not as effective and does not replace the requirement to wear a cloth or disposable face covering while at work unless an accommodation has been approved due to a medical condition.
Q. How do I properly wear, remove, and clean my face covering?
A. Tips for use:
- Before putting on a face covering, clean hands with soap and water or alcohol-based hand rub.
- Fit snugly but comfortably against the side of the face.
- Cover the nose and mouth completely; make sure there are no gaps between your face and the covering.
- Secure with ties or ear loops.
- Allow for breathing without restriction.
- Avoid touching the covering while using it; if you do, clean your hands with soap and water or alcohol-based hand rub.
- Grab it by the straps to remove; do not touch the front or inside of the covering.
- Place the covering in something that will keep it out of contact from others.
- Be careful not to touch eyes, nose, and mouth.
- Wash hands thoroughly with soap and water.
- Disinfect any surface that the mask may have touched.
- Laundry instructions will depend on the cloth used to make the face covering.
- In general, cloth face coverings should be washed regularly (e.g., daily and whenever soiled) using water and a mild detergent, (washing machine is great).
- Dry face coverings completely in a hot dryer.
- Store clean face coverings in a clean container or bag.
As Pierce County moves into Phase 2 of the Safe Start order, a Recovery Readiness FAQ has been created for you in preparation of Phase 3 of Gov. Inslee’s Safe Start Washington: Phased Reopening County-by-County. Information is based on current recommendations and is subject to revision as new information becomes available.
In addition, please watch COVID-19 Return to Work, a short video training developed to help you safely return to work.
As a reminder, now that Pierce County has entered Phase 2, the governor’s Stay Home Order no longer qualifies as a reason for use of the Family First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) Emergency Paid Sick Leave.
If you have any questions, please contact Human Resources at 253-798-7480 or PCHUMANRESOURCES@piercecountywa.gov.
Essential On-Site Personnel
First and foremost, we want to thank our employees who must be physically present in their regular workplace or at a designated workplace to perform essential functions on behalf of the County. Employees who have any questions about their status as essential personnel should contact their supervisors for clarification. We want to provide the fullest support and appreciation to these employees as they continue to perform their regular duties.
Temporary Telework Authorization
Teleworking is encouraged as much as possible. If you have not already done so, employees who can perform work from a remote work location should submit the Temporary Telework Authorization to request approval. Additional information can be found here.
COVID-19 Standby Pay updated April 1, 2020While every effort is being made to keep employees working during this difficult time, there may be instances where you are unable to work because of your own circumstances or where your worksite is closed due to the Governor’s “Stay Home” order and your inability to telework. Employees who are engaged in non-essential activities and cannot telework may be placed on standby status from March 25 through April 24, 2020.
Employees in standby status will be assigned to work from home and receive their normal pay. During this standby time, these employees may or may not have work duties to perform from home. Regardless, if work is assigned, these employees must be immediately available to report to work if/when requested and may not engage in activities that render them unable to work. If standby employees are asked to work and are unable to do so, they will be required to use accrued vacation leave, comp-time, personal holiday, or go into an unpaid leave status. Select the Standby Work Opportunities tab above.
Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA)updated April 14, 2020
In addition to County benefits, the FFCRA may provide you with additional benefits. This is updated guidance on the FFCRA as of March 31, 2020. Effective April 1, 2020, through Dec. 31, 2020, (this effective date is a change from our initial understanding of April 2, 2020) employees may utilize three new benefits passed by this emergency federal legislation:
1. Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion (Emergency FMLA Expansion)
- Employed 30-days with Pierce County: Employees who have been employed with the County for at least 30-days are eligible for this leave.
- For childcare issues: This leave is for your inability to work because of COVID-19 childcare issues or school closure for elementary and secondary school aged children (or over 18 who is incapable of self-care because of a mental/physical disability).
- 10-day waiting period: This is a partially paid leave but requires a 10-day waiting period before benefits begin. During this 10-day period, you may choose to take leave without pay, elect another leave accrual, or use FFCRA emergency paid sick leave (see below).
- 2/3 pay: Once you have fulfilled your 10-day waiting period, payment is two-thirds of your regular rate of pay up to a maximum of $200 per day or an aggregate maximum of $10,000.
- 12-weeks of FMLA: This emergency expansion is for 12-weeks of FMLA and is part of your regular FMLA time for which you may be eligible.
- Emergency responders and medical care providers are excluded.
- Request Form: Employees should complete the Emergency FMLA Expansion request form at the Human Resources website if they wish to apply for this benefit beginning April 1, 2020.
2. Emergency Paid Sick Leave
- Up to 80 hours of emergency paid sick leave: Effective April 1, 2020, emergency paid sick leave is available to all employees regardless of how long they have worked for the County. This leave provides up to 80 hours for full time employees (the average two weeks’ hours for part time employees) if you are unable to work or telework for a covered reason. Employees are not required to use other sources of leave before using the emergency paid sick leave.
- Follow regular Call-in Procedure and specify if leave is Regular Sick Leave or FFCRA Emergency Paid Sick Leave: You are required to call in according to your normal department call-in procedures. Inform your supervisor if you want to take regular accrued County sick leave or Emergency Paid Sick Leave. You need to state the reason for the Emergency Paid Sick Leave and specifically which category of leave your time qualifies for.
- If you are not teleworking and are unable to work due to a reason other than child care (1, 2, 3, 4 and 6) you must use Emergency Paid Sick Leave in full day increments and continue to use it until the full amount has been used, or you no longer have a qualifying reason for taking Emergency Paid Sick Leave. DOL requires this to prevent the spread of the virus.
- There are two categories of Emergency Paid Sick Leave with different pay amounts:
- Self-care is paid at your regular rate of pay, up to $511 per day (up to a maximum total compensation of $5,110) and includes leave where:
- You have received a government quarantine or isolation order. Governor Inslee’s current Stay Home Order qualifies unitl the County movies to Phase 2. Once the County is in Phase 2, employees are unable to use the governor's Stay Home Order as a qualifying reason;
- Your health care provider recommends you self-quarantine; or
- You are experiencing symptoms and self-quarantine while awaiting a diagnosis.
- Care of others is paid at two-thirds of your regular rate of pay up to $200 per day (up to a maximum total compensation of $2000) for leave due to:
- Care of another who is under government ordered quarantine or isolation;
- Childcare for your elementary and secondary school aged children when your child’s school, daycare or care provider is unavailable due to COVID-19; or
- Any other substantially similar condition as specified by the Secretary of the Federal Department of Health and Human Services.
3. Emergency Unemployment Insurance Stabilization and Access
While we are working to keep our employees working and productive through the teleworking and reassignment options, should you find yourself unemployed, this act has eased the eligibility requirements and access to Washington State unemployment compensation by waiving the work search requirement and the waiting week for claimants. Visit the Washington Employment Security Department website for information about unemployment benefits.
In addition to, or instead of the above emergency federal leaves, employees who are unable to work or telework may take County accrued leave as follows:
|Situation||Leave Type That May Apply|
|You are ill||
|You are caring for an ill, eligible family member||
|Your child’s childcare/school was closed by order of a public official||
|You are ordered by public health official to quarantine||
|You are advised by your health care provider to quarantine||
|You are essential personnel and refuse to go to work because of COVID-19||
|Your workplace shuts down||
* Refer to sections 3.69 and 3.70 of the Administrative Guidelines. Documents can be scanned and emailed to HRLeaveAdmin@piercecountywa.gov.
Employees may also be approved for a leave of absence without pay pursuant to Pierce County Code 3.80 once they have exhausted their leave accruals.
Additionally, you may be eligible for state benefits during such absences such as Paid Family and Medical Leave (PFML) or unemployment benefits. Please see the COVID-19 Scenarios and Benefits chart for further information.
Exposure to COVID-19 at the Workplace
Risk Management advises that if you feel you have been exposed to COVID-19 in the workplace, report it immediately to your supervisor. Although it is unclear whether State L&I will cover it, you are encouraged to file a worker’s compensation claim.
Please also immediately report any known workplace exposure to the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department. If you are placed on mandatory quarantine as a result of workplace exposure and are unable to work remotely, the following apply:
- Your supervisor will submit a “Supervisors Report of Employee Personal Injury” form to Risk Management.
- If you wish to file a worker’s compensation claim (SIF-2), follow the instructions found on the Risk Management intranet web page.
- We have been informed that first responders’ and healthcare workers’ absences will be covered by industrial insurance during their quarantine.