Paid Sick Leave and Coronavirus

On March 6, 2020, the Department of Labor and Industries provided a list of common questions pertaining to the state’s paid sick leave laws and COVID-19. The guidance mainly indicates that employees can use paid sick leave to cover their absence if:

  • The business is closed by a public official in connection with COVID-19
  • A school or place of care of a worker’s child is temporarily closed by a public official because of COVID-19
  • The worker is required to leave work because they may have been exposed to COVID-19
  • The worker is feeling ill or experiencing symptoms that may be COVID-19 related
  • A doctor recommends that the individual not return to work due to possible COVID-19 exposure or symptoms
  • The worker is seeking medical diagnosis, care, treatment or preventive medical care for illness or symptoms that may be related to COVID-19

The guidance also indicates that an employer cannot require an employee to work from home instead of using their accrued paid sick leave. Further, an employer is not required to allow employees to use paid sick leave if the business decides on its own to temporarily close in response to COVID-19 (although they can allow the use of paid sick time in the situation).

Washington employers should review this guidance to ensure that they provide the appropriate access to paid sick time to their employees.

Paid Sick Leave and Coronavirus (COVID-19) Common Questions »