Accessing leave during COVID-19
What leaves can I access if I need them?
King County offers a variety of leaves to help employees support our community and take care of themselves and their families during the COVID-19 outbreak. Learn more about available leaves for COVID-19-related issues and their eligibility criteria on this webpage. There is also more information about other types of leaves on the Employee Benefits website.
Every donation of leave matters and will help a King County employee in need. This is also a good option for employee who may find themselves in a “use-it-or-lose-it” position with vacation balance at the end of the year.
This new program is available to Executive Branch employees and all separately-elected agencies except Superior Court and the Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, which will manage their own programs.
What leaves are available?
The County may approve up to 80 hours of Paid Administrative Leave (PAL) for full-time non-represented employees and bargaining units who have signed an MOU with the County to provide PAL. Part-time employees are eligible for a prorated amount based on their average hours. A list of participating bargaining units can be found here. PAL is not available for short-term temporary employees and interns. Partial days for salaried employees are ONLY permitted if for childcare and other FMLA-qualifying reasons and must be paired with hours worked or other leaves, so that the employee is paid for the entire day. PAL can only be used for the following circumstances:
- Employees who are sick with COVID-19 or taking care of eligible family members with COVID-19;
- Employees who are sick with COVID-19 symptoms and must stay home;
- Employees who are not high risk, but are directed by a Health Officer or qualified medical professional to quarantine because of potential exposure to COVID-19 and who cannot telecommute;
- Employees who are home because their child’s school or childcare facility is closed and who are unable to work or telecommute; and
- Employees who fall into CDC high risk (see below) categories who cannot telecommute and do not want to come into the workplace.
- To obtain a vaccination or to recover if the employee is sick as a result of the vaccination and unable to work.
Note: This leave provides a maximum of 80 hours and does not allow for an additional 80 hours in 2021. To request paid administrative leave for COVID-related reasons, use the Paid Administrative Leave-COVID-19 Form.
CDC Definition of High Risk
- People 65 and older;
- People whose medical conditions are listed by the CDC under the “increased risk” category; and
- People whose medical conditions are listed by the CDC under the “might be at an increased risk” category, but only if, based on the employee’s medical circumstances and workplace conditions, the employee is, in fact, at increased risk for suffering severe illness from COVID-19.
Supervisor Approval Process for PAL:
In order to maintain essential services, supervisor approval must be received in order to take PAL. Supervisors will make decisions based on the eligibility criteria listed above, operational need and business continuity, in addition to employee designations as First Responder or Mission Critical. Upon receipt of an employee’s request for PAL, the supervisor will assess staffing levels based upon available staff and operational need, as follows:
- For eligibility criteria 1 and 2, the supervisor shall grant the leave.
- For eligibility criteria 3, the supervisor will approve the request, if it does not pose operational hardship. Where approving the employee's request for eligibility criterion 3 would pose operational hardship, HR will confer with the Health Officer or medical professional who directed the quarantine.
- For eligibility criteria 4 or 5, the leave will be granted if it does not pose operational hardship based on the demands of operations and the available staffing (taking into account employees currently on leave and employees previously authorized to take leave). If approving the leave would cause operational hardship, the manager will attempt to accommodate the leave as soon as possible relative to when the request was made. The request will be given priority over requests for vacation leave.
- For leave to get vaccinated or recover if the employee is sick as a result of the vaccination and unable to work (criteria 6), the employee should follow their department’s sick leave notification procedures. The supervisor may seek verification to confirm that the use was appropriate if the employee is out for more than three days.
Provides up to a maximum of 80 hours of paid administrative leave (prorated for less than 40 hour schedules) for certain COVID related reasons. This leave is available to non-represented employees and for members of unions which have signed the Memorandum of Agreement. This leave provides a maximum of 80 hours and does not allow for an additional 80 hours in 2021. To request paid administrative leave for COVID-related reasons, use the Paid Administrative Leave – COVID form.
Where permitted, an employee may adjust the time period in which they complete each day’s required work hours to help them better manage the competing demands on their time. For example, instead of a standard 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. work schedule, an employee may be permitted to adjust their schedule to 6 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. five days a week. Employees may also be permitted to adjust their schedule to work a different number of hours on each day of the week as long as they complete their regular 35- or 40-hour work week.
This option will not be appropriate for every employee or every function, and will require the approval of an employee’s supervisor. Any change to the schedule of an employee represented by a labor organization must be consistent with the relevant collective bargaining agreement.
If an employee would like to adjust their hours, they are encouraged to have this discussion with their supervisor. A Pandemic Alternative Work Arrangements for Parents Form must be completed and approved by the employee’s supervisor prior to beginning an adjusted schedule. After an employee begins an adjusted schedule, supervisors should conduct periodic reviews with the employee to evaluate the success of the arrangement.
Supervisors: Please review this checklist when reviewing requests for Pandemic Alternative Work Arrangements.
The announcement that most schools will start remotely in fall of 2020 creates additional challenges for working parents, as does caring for elderly or sick family members. Please see this guide for leave and scheduling options if you have school-aged or younger children at home whose school or childcare has closed because of COVID-19. Please work with your supervisor and seek approval when pursuing the options below, and consult your HR Representative for more details.
COVID-19 Paid Leave is no longer available, as it was only provided on an as-needed basis through April 24, 2020.