No Mask, No Problem – Washington Department of Labor & Industries Issues New Guidance for Fully Vaccinated Workers

Stoel Rives - World of Employment
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Stoel Rives - World of Employment

On May 21, 2021, the Washington Department of Labor & Industries (“L&I”) published new guidance regarding fully vaccinated workers.  The new guidance will help employers adjust masking policies to meet the new Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (“CDC”) guidelines adopted by Governor Jay Inslee.

Under the new guidance, most Washington employers need not require masks or social distancing for fully vaccinated employees.  However, employers must confirm workers are fully vaccinated before ending mask and social distancing requirements for those employees.  Unvaccinated employees—or employees whose vaccination status is unknown—must continue wearing masks and social distancing.

To prove vaccination status, employees must either sign a document attesting to their vaccination status or provide proof of vaccination.  Employers must be able to demonstrate verification of vaccination status for workers who are not masked or physically distanced.  Verification methods may include:

  • Creating a log of workers who have verified they have been vaccinated and the date of verification;
  • Checking vaccination status each day as workers enter a jobsite;
  • Marking a worker’s badge or credential to show that they are vaccinated; or
  • Other methods that sufficiently demonstrate that the employer has verified worker vaccination status.

When verifying vaccination status, acceptable documentation includes a CDC vaccination card, a photo of the card, documentation from a health care provider, a signed attestation from the worker, or documentation from the state immunization information system.

Importantly, under the new guidance, employers and local public health agencies can still require mask wearing and social distancing at work if they choose to do so.  Finally, the new guidance does not change masking rules for health care settings, which must continue to require all employees to wear masks.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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