Businesses and Employers

Guidance and resources for businesses and employers.

Good to Know

Learn more about the newest round of federal PPP and disaster loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration.
Ask about reopening plans, worker safety, unemployment, sick leave, and more. You may also file a complaint against a business.
Read the latest opening guidance.
Sign up for the weekly business and worker newsletter.
Toolkit for employers to help staff get vaccinated against COVID-19.

Healthy Washington – Roadmap to Recovery plans and guidance for reopening

For the latest, business and worker guidance related to Healthy Washington – Roadmap to Recovery, visit the Governor’s website

Facial Covering Guidance

On June 2, 2021, Gov. Jay Inslee issued updates for most business and employee guidance documents to incorporate the new facial covering guidance from the CDC and Washington Department of Health.

Additionally, the governor announced that some industries with minimal customer or general public interaction will no longer need to follow additional guidance. They will instead only need to follow the COVID-19 workplace health and safety measures established by the Department of Labor & Industries (L&I).

Read all business and employee guidance on the governor's COVID-19 Reopening Guidance for Businesses and Workers page.

General Workplace Safety
State law requires employers to provide a safe and healthy workplace, and it protects workers from retaliation. These basic obligations remain in effect during this pandemic.

Federal Grants, Loans, Stimulus

The federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act mobilized a number of programs to support the American economy.
Provisions included paycheck protection for workers, small business debt relief, economic injury disaster loans, small business counseling and contracting, and tax provisions.

Paycheck Protection Program
The Paycheck Protection Program is a forgivable loan issued by the U.S. Small Business Administration to help businesses keep their workforce employed during the pandemic.

Federal Economic Impact Payments
Many American families received federal stimulus checks, a provision of the CARES Act.

Small Business Administration

Guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Guidance on preparing workplaces for COVID-19 from the United States Department of Labor

Resources from State Agencies

Department of Labor and Industries (L&I)
L&I is for workplace safety and rights for workers. They will also serve as an enforcement arm of Safe Start restrictions.

Employment Security Department (ESD)
ESD is offering relief to affected workers and information to businesses statewide that may help them employ and retain their workers.

Department of Health (DOH)
DOH is a primary source for data on the coronavirus and guidance to slow the spread.

Department of Commerce (COM)
Commerce is responding to the crisis by arranging funding, grants, loans, and resources for Washington businesses.

Insurance Information
The Office of the Insurance Commissioner has information about insurance coverage businesses need to protect themselves from potential losses.

Guidance from OIC for businesses about keeping employees on their health insurance plans.

For information employers can share with employees about the health insurance options available through Washington Health plan finder (includes free and low-cost options for those who will or have lost employer-sponsored coverage), please visit the Washington Health Benefit Exchange Coronavirus FAQ Page.

Liquor and Cannabis Board
Administration and enforcement of liquor, cannabis, tobacco and vapor laws

Washington State Department of Agriculture
Administration and support for the agriculture community

Washington State Human Rights Commission
The Washington State Human Rights Commission (WSHRC) is a state agency responsible for administering and enforcing the Washington Law Against Discrimination.

Technical Assistance for Small Business

Mental and emotional well-being of employees

The COVID-19 pandemic is impacting everyone. Your employees are likely experiencing new levels of stress and anxiety or grappling with feelings of isolation and depression. You might notice employees are more irritable, forgetful or have difficulty focusing. This is a normal response to the kind of crisis situation we've been experiencing. These resources can help you support your employees as they return to work.

If your company offers an employee assistance program, be sure to remind your workers how to make use of that benefit.

Worker Benefits

Workers affected by the pandemic may be eligible for unemployment benefits. Regular unemployment benefits are available for workers experiencing layoffs or reduced hours through no fault of their own. Expanded unemployment options may cover many workers ineligible for regular unemployment.

You may have questions about resuming your operations and bringing employees back to the workplace. For example, can employees refuse offers of work and continue to collect unemployment benefits? In some situations, the answer may be “yes”.

SharedWork may be a suitable option. Businesses that can reduce work hours by 10-50%, instead of laying off an employee, keep that worker employed while remaining eligible for shared work and CARES Act benefits.

WorkSource Washington is a powerful job-match site for workers searching for the right opportunity and employers looking for the right candidate. Employers can post unlimited job postings, automatically rank applicants, and compare candidates side-by-side. Job seekers can use advanced search tools to browse thousands of openings.

Paid Sick Leave
Workers may use accrued paid sick leave if their employer is shut down due to a health-related reason, including COVID-19.

Additionally, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) requires certain employers to provide workers with paid sick leave or expanded family and medical leave for specified reasons related to COVID-19.

Paid Family and Medical Leave
Paid Family and Medical Leave is available to workers that require time off to care for themselves or a family member due to a qualifying event, such as a serious health condition or a new baby. This benefit also applies to military deployments and returns from deployment.

Guidance for State Agencies and Local Governments

  • The state Emergency Management Division has activated resources for state and local governments, tribal governments and to certain non-profits.

  • The state’s Office of Financial Management can help governments manage various workplace issues related to COVID-19.

  • The Department of Enterprise Services offers services for state agencies and municipal governments including facilities and lease management, accounting, human resources, risk management, contracting and printing.

  • The Department of Commerce has compiled a list of federal and state funding available to local governments.


A moratorium on service disconnects was extended one final time through September 30, 2021. This is for both investor owned utilities managed by the Utilities and Transportation Commission as well as other utilities governed by the Governor's moratorium. The Utilities and Transportation Commission also ordered investor-owned electric and natural gas utilities in Washington to continue a moratorium on disconnections for nonpayment until Sept. 30, 2021, and utilities will continue to waive deposits for new customers and all late fees through March 29, 2022.

Check with your county treasurer's office about potential property tax deadline changes for your county. You can find COVID-19 information and links to county governments on the Washington Association of County Officials website.

Final paychecks must be paid on or before the next regularly scheduled payday. Employers cannot withhold a final paycheck if the employee does not turn in keys, uniforms, tools, equipment, etc. There are specific rules for deductions taken from a final paycheck.

Severance, personal holidays and vacation time are voluntary benefits. Employers can choose to pay out these benefits on a final paycheck. If your employees believe they are owed any of these agreed-upon benefits, they can contact an attorney or file in small claims court.

Employers must follow separate requirements for paid sick leave balances.
We encourage you to learn about resources available to help keep your business open.