Telecommuting guidance extended through May 31

Whitney Abrams, Chief People Officer, King County Executive Office

Dear employee,

Yesterday, Governor Inslee reiterated that the state’s “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order aimed at stopping the spread of COVID-19 will stay in place at least until May 4, and possibly longer. These restrictions are absolutely necessary if we are to stop the spread of COVID-19 in our state and our region, and our employees – especially our first responders and mission-critical employees – have been doing everything they can to continue serving our region under extremely challenging circumstances.

Regardless of when the order is lifted, our operations will not return to normal like the flick of a light switch. It will take thoughtful and prudent actions and decision-making to stop the virus from reemerging in a second wave.

As such, King County is extending mandatory telecommuting for Executive Branch employees who have been telecommuting through Sunday, May 31, 2020. Our guidance remains the same for first responders and mission-critical employees for the Executive Branch until further notice. Employees in other branches of County government (definitions below) will receive guidance from their leaders. Please see the full, updated guidance below.

Thank you for your ongoing service and commitment to our community. Please take care of yourself, your loved ones, and one another.




Whitney Abrams,
Chief People Officer

Updated guidance – April 22, 2020

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, the majority of 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 Sunday, May 31. 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. Learn more about our Emergency Deployment Program.

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.

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 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.