Washington State Labor & Industries thinks the COVID-19 lockdowns will last until June 30, 2021

By MARK HARMSWORTH  | 
Sep 10, 2020
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In a recent request for proposal (login required), Washington State Labor & Industries (L&I) has asked for companies to submit bids for an new L&I Education and Communication Outreach program. The plan is to educate and make sure Washington employers remain in compliance for the continuing COVID-19 business restrictions. All bids are due September 21, 2020 and L&I plans on spending $250,000 on the effort.

The end date of the contract is June 30, 2021, 10 months from now.

Apparently, L&I is planning for an extended COVID-19 lockdown and believes that it will be continuing well into 2021. For many small businesses, being locked down that long will put them out of business.

Some of the compliance program goals include:

  • Increase knowledge of, and compliance with, L&I’s COVID-19 related requirements, particularly among small businesses and nonprofits.
  • Develop new partnerships statewide among organizations serving the employer community and increase the capacity of such organizations to serve as ongoing resources for information and compliance assistance.
  • Foster increased collaboration between L&I, employer-trusted groups, and business and nonprofit communities, and with other public agencies and organizations with regard to pandemic recovery.
  • Strengthen trust between employers and L&I and increase use of L&I’s many tools, resources and services, which can help employers meet their obligations effectively and efficiently.
  • Positively impact the health and well-being of business customers, nonprofit constituents, and others who come into contact with employers and employees.

The justification for the program is that not all businesses know what L&I requires of them, including compliance assistance, during COVID-19. It is yet another example of government overreach.

Washington Policy Center believes the correct course of action is not to require a business to be the enforcement arm of any government agency. The business, may of course, at their own discretion, refuse service to those who don’t follow the rules.

The safety of Washington residents is, of course, important but both residents and businesses have been sensible in their approach to the COVID-19 crisis and can self-regulate themselves to keep our communities safe. The vast majority of business owners will continue doing everything they can do to keep their customers safe.