Federal Public Health Emergency ends May 11
President’s Biden’s administration has announced that the current federal Public Health Emergency for COVID-19 will be lifted on May 11, 2023. This means that King County’s obligations under the Health Emergency Labor Standards Act (HELSA) will also end as of that date.
Currently the county is prohibited from discharging, replacing, or discriminating against high-risk employees for seeking accommodations or utilizing leave to limit their risk of exposure to Covid-19. Because of the improved conditions in the community which have led to the announcement of the lifting of the state of emergency, as of May 11, the County will no longer be required to accommodate high risk employees under HELSA. Depending on the employee’s type of work and work environment, this may result in a return to the workplace for employees who are currently being accommodated under HELSA.
Until the state of emergency is officially lifted, the County will continue complying with HELSA. The county will soon be communicating with currently accommodated employees to discuss next steps.