April 13, 2020 Update
The HADit law officially goes into effect in 90 days with some aspects going into effect immediately and others having longer timelines. Passing this law was a HUGE first step, but there is still work to be done. Below are some of what we’ll be working toward next:
Prior information for in-home caregivers to feel more prepared – All covered employers, DSHS and their agents are now required to inform workers of instances of abusive conduct or challenging behaviors.
Recording and reporting – Employers are now required to keep a record of any reported incidents of abusive conduct or discrimination. Incidents of challenging behaviors are not required to be recorded or reported.
Enforcement – Labor and Industries will investigate to ensure compliance with the policy, prevention plan, informing workers, and reporting requirements.
Prevention plans – By July 1, 2021 all home care agencies and the Consumer Direct Employer must implement a prevention plan to reduce workplace violence including clear processes for emergency responses and leaving unsafe situations.
Training and future policy workgroup – A multi-stakeholder workgroup, including caregivers, will be convened to recommend by December 1, 2021 additional policy recommendations and training for workers, clients and agency supervisors.
Comprehensive written policy – By July 1, 2021 all employers must have written policies about how they will address instances of discrimination, abusive conduct and challenging behaviors. Policies must be delivered to caregivers at least annually, in a way that everyone can understand.
In addition to the work we did in Olympia, all our agencies have also implemented some version of our HADit asks into each of our contracts, including some or all of the following:
Advanced notice of known client behavior – When a client’s behaviors have been reported to the agency, new workers assigned to the client will be advised if those behaviors have made care challenging.
Clear rules for reporting – Known policies and procedures for reporting health and safety issues – a specific chain of communication, documentation of issues and employer follow-up.
Safety equipment provided – Safety equipment that is needed for job performance will be provided per the client’s care plans.
Client-Specific Training – Some clients require special training (e.g. operation of Hoyer lifts in the home), and this puts the onus on the employer to provide training.
Paid shifts for leaving due to health or safety concerns – If an employee feels that their health or safety is compromised in the home, employees may leave their shift, contact their supervisor and still be compensated for their shift (assuming that their concern is validated). In any case, employees will not be retaliated against for leaving a shift.
March 4, 2020 Update
Both the Washington State Senate and House of Representatives voted in support of SB 6205 – landmark legislation that addresses the harassment, abuse, and discrimination of caregivers! The final step is Governor Inslee signing the bill, which he plans to do!
Together, we’ve done so much in Olympia throughout this legislative session to get this bill passed, including multiple testimonies, handing out care packages, sharing our stories, and calling and emailing lawmakers. It is the first of many steps we’re taking to make the care environment safer for everyone. This is how we can use our power together to make change.
It’s your stories that made a difference for lawmakers, and they heard you.
Some of the legislators we’ve been talking to about supporting these bills are the same lawmakers we interviewed, endorsed, and worked hard together to elect. Our power in Olympia comes from us working together to fight to improve our lives, the lives of the people we care for, and for our communities.
Together, we can build a better future for all of us.
Low-wage workers – especially women, immigrants, and people of color – are particularly vulnerable to harassment, abuse, and discrimination in the workplace. For home care workers, the isolated and often intimate nature of our work can put us even more at risk.
For caregivers who have experienced harassment, abuse, and discrimination, the impact is more than an immediate reaction. It also effects their health, wellbeing, and quality of care. Negative health outcomes include depression, flashbacks, sleeplessness, traumatic stress disorder, and poorer physical health – which can last for years after the incident. Additionally, it also leads to increased turnover among direct care workers and lower quality of care for clients.
Prevalence of Harassment, Abuse, and Discrimination of Washington SEIU 775 Caregivers
47% reported Verbal Abuse
24% reported Physical Violence
12% reported Sexual Harassment (Parent Providers were not asked about this)
In 2018, an SEIU 775 caregiver reported to our Union a harrowing story of the harassment and discrimination they faced while working as a caregiver. At the time, their livelihood, housing, safety, and dignity were at risk, and there was little we as a union could to do to help them because of the lack of structures in place to address harassment, abuse, and discrimination of caregivers.
Unfortunately, the experience they went through was only one of many reported to us in the past year alone.
That’s why SEIU 775 launched our HADit campaign – the campaign to address Harassment, Abuse, and Discrimination of caregivers and make the care environment safer for everyone.
SEIU 775 is working with caregivers and the aging and disability rights community including self-advocates to craft a powerful and comprehensive policy to address these issues that include:
- Model employer policies and practices: Employers should be required to have written, comprehensive policies that are delivered to caregivers at least annually, in a way that everyone can understand.
- Violence prevention plans, including a plan to leave unsafe situations: Employers must have violence prevention plans, developed in conjunction with workers or their representatives. This is required in most other healthcare settings and should be required for caregiving.
- Advance warning for caregivers: Employers must give caregivers advance warning and updates on patterns of conduct or dangers in or around the household. This needs to be done in a way that is respectful of individual privacy, while also communicating to caregivers the information we need to safely do our job.
- Transparency: Employers of in-home based direct care workers should be required to record incidents, retain those records for at least 5 years, make those records available for inspection upon request, and report certain metrics to the State.
- Training: The legislature should convene a multi-stakeholder work group to create recommendations around
training for caregivers, clients, and agency supervisors.
Harassment, abuse, and discrimination of caregivers is something that can and should be addressed. We’re asking for your support to make sure:
- Everyone feels safe at work and while giving and receiving care.
- Everyone feels respected when giving and receiving care.
- Everyone can continue to strengthen the long-term care workforce and system in our state.
- And, caregivers are empowered to provide the best quality care possible.
We launched our HADit campaign at our Leadership Conference in September 2019.
Watch the Nov. 20, 2019 work session with the Washington state Senate Health and Long Term Care Committee here. Watch SEIU 775 President Sterling Harders, caregivers, agency employers, Parent Providers, and allies testify in front of the Committee in the the Jan. 15, 2020 hearing in support of Senate Bill 6205 here.
If you have a harassment, abuse, or discrimination story from your workplace that you would like to share with the Union, please contact HADit@seiu775.org.