Vaccine Mandate Waiver Materials, Instructions

Date: September 09, 2021

Inslee administration provides templates to help employers comply

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee has mandated that private-sector employers, including some service providers and suppliers, who contract with state agencies, educational institutions, and healthcare facilities must ensure their workers are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 by October 18, 2021.

Employers will need to verify the vaccination status of all employees.

The governor’s office has published an FAQ describing these requirements. The state Department of Labor & Industries has provided additional information here.

In general, the following types of work settings are subject to the vaccination mandate:

  • State agencies: All contractors working onsite at executive cabinet agencies of the state of Washington if the work is required to be performed in person and on site, regardless of frequency, whether other workers are present, or any contingent nature of that requirement, including indoor or outdoor worksites.

  • Medical facilities: Work performed at a “healthcare setting” where patients receiving care are present. “Healthcare setting” is defined as any public or private setting that is primarily used for the delivery of in-person health care services to people. “Healthcare setting” includes portions of a multi-use facility, but only the areas that are primarily used for the delivery of health care, such as a pharmacy within a grocery store.

  • Educational setting: In places where students or people receiving services are present.

Some employers and workers may be exempt from the requirement, including:

  • Workers who are present at a site for only a short period of time and have a fleeting physical presence with others. Examples include contractors delivering supplies by truck to a construction site where they remain physically distanced from others on the site, refuse pickup, or a driver for a contracted shipping and delivery service briefly entering a site to pick up parcels for shipping.

  • Recipients of funds distributed by an executive cabinet state agency, but where work is performed at a different physical location. Examples include vendors employed by local government who receive state funding, or sub-recipients of the state operating independent offices.

  • Work performed at a healthcare setting removed from patient care access. Examples include an entire closed wing with no medical services provided at the time of construction.

  • Work performed at a school or institution of higher education in a location removed from student instruction or services.

Some workers may be eligible for a vaccination waiver for either religious or medical reasons. Employers may be required to provide those workers with certain accommodations. Templates for exemption forms are available here.

Please note that state requirements for employer review and approval of worker vaccination-waiver requests differ from federal EEOC guidelines. Gov. Inslee’s directive states that:

A private employer covered by this requirement must manage the accommodation process with clear and adequate policies that comply with Proclamation 21-14.1, et seq. Employers are prohibited from granting exemptions:

    • That they know are based on false, misleading, or dishonest grounds or information;

    • That they know are based on the personal preference of the individual and not on an inability to get vaccinated because of a disability or a conflict with a sincerely held religious belief, practice, or observance; or
    • Without conducting an individualized assessment and determination of each individual’s need and justification for an accommodation; i.e., “rubberstamping” accommodation requests.

Anyone who is eligible for a religious or disability-related/medical exemption is entitled to a reasonable accommodation assessment. The reasonable accommodation assessment will take into account the individual’s position, the business needs of the employer, and the business needs of the contract-holder, in the case of covered on-site contractors. To ensure compliance with all COVID-19 requirements and anti-discrimination laws, private employers are advised to seek legal counsel.

For contractors coming onto state property, the state may impose additional health and safety measures should the contractor’s accommodation be insufficient to protect against the COVID-19 hazard.

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