COVID-19 Staffing Updates – March 25, 2020

Dear employee, as you know we are working in a rapidly evolving situation responding to COVID-19. On Monday evening, Gov. Inslee announced a “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order. We will provide additional guidance soon on what this means for our employees, and will continue to provide regular updates.

To ensure we can continue to serve our customers and slow the spread of COVID-19, the following guidance applies to Executive Branch employees until further notice (Employees in other branches of County government will receive guidance from their leaders [definition below]).

First responders: Employees designated as first responders have the highest duty to report to work as directed in emergency conditions. Given the unique situation of the COVID-19 emergency, employees designated as first responders may be different than those who are designated as first responders in our traditional natural disaster emergencies. First responders who have been exposed to COVID-19, but do not have symptoms, are expected to report for work rather than stay home because of their essential function. First responders who do not have symptoms, but are at high risk for severe illness are strongly encouraged to stay home. Every department needs to determine which employees should be designated as a first responder. These designations may change through the course of the COVID-19 emergency. Supervisors need to inform those employees who are designated as a first responder. There may be circumstances where the particular exposure or household risk factors affect whether a first responder can or should report to work if exposed. If a supervisor has questions about whether a first responder should report to work, they should contact the department Human Resources Manager.

Mission-critical employees: Mission-critical employees must be available to perform their duties as determined by their agency management. During the COVID-19 emergency, many mission-critical employees will be able to perform their duties while telecommuting. Mission-critical employees who have been exposed, but do not have symptoms should discuss with their supervisor and Human Resources Manager whether or not the employee should stay home. Mission critical employees who do not have symptoms, but are at high risk for severe illness, are strongly encouraged to stay home. If the work must be performed in a workplace with other employees, supervisors should make a decision about whether or not an exposed mission-critical employee who does not have symptoms can effectively stay home.

For all other employees, King County is now mandating telecommuting for those employees whose work allows for it, with supervisor approval, through Friday, April 24. Managers and supervisors must work with their employees to permit telecommuting wherever possible and be creative to maximize telecommuting. Employees are permitted to telecommute with children in the home. The expectation of productive work remains. Please find telecommute resources here and submit a signed telecommute agreement to your supervisor. You can also get KCIT guidance here on the necessary technology tools (SharePoint). Please note that this guidance does not apply to employees designated as first responders and mission-critical employees. 

Temporary reassignment: Employees who would not normally be able to telecommute but are provided a temporary reassignment or work arrangement and decline, must first use their leave accruals and then will be placed in leave without pay.

Temporary Leave and Telecommuting Policy: Please see our Temporary Leave and Telecommuting Policy to help answer your questions, talk to your manager or supervisor, or consult your department’s Human Resources Manager.

King County is working to model the way for other employers, and we expect all Executive Branch employees, supervisors, and managers to follow this guidance.

Executive Branch departments: Department of Assessments, Department of Adult and Juvenile Detention, Department of Executive Services, Department of Community and Human Services, Department of Human Resources, Department of Judicial Administration, Department of Local Services, Department of Metro Transit, Department of Natural Resources and Park, Department of Public Defense, Department of Public Health, Executive Department, King County Elections, King County Information Technology (KCIT), King County Sheriff’s Office (The King County Sheriff’s Office is administered by the King County Sheriff).

Other branches of County government: District Court, King County Council, Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, Superior Court.