When you’re hearing so much about COVID-19, it can be overwhelming and hard to know what to believe. Below are trusted resources that we will be updating continuously with the latest information, as well as best practices for keeping yourself, your family, and your client healthy.


Frequently Asked Questions

Hazard Pay:
Question: Are caregivers getting Hazard Pay?

Answer: We fought for and won hazard pay so Washington home care workers have seen an additional $2.50 to $3 in their paychecks since May 2020 – and will receive guaranteed Hazard Pay through June 2021. IPs are receiving pay of Hazard Pay of $2.54 an hour from January 2021 to June 2021. Learn more at https://seiu775.org/covidipbargaining/

Client Safety:
Question: What do I do if I or my client gets COVID-19 or is exposed to COVID-19?

Answer: This is a big concern of many caregivers. We encourage you to call your/your client’s primary care physician, and contact your client’s case manager if you are an IP or your supervisor if you are an agency provider. The CDC has a resource guide for living with someone or sharing close quarters with someone with coronavirus. Additionally, the Washington State Department of Health has established a call center to address questions from the public – their number is 1-800-525-0127.

Home Care Guidance for Tele-Health from DSHS: View this document for a list of tasks that can now be done by phone or remotely, and which tasks can only be provided in person. If you work for a private home care agency consult with your agency supervisor before doing tasks by phone or remotely.

COVID-19 Home Health.Home Care Guidelines: This document provides guidance for staff of home care, home health and hospice agencies to use when helping patients around the house or with personal or clinical care.

Health Insurance:
Question: I lost hours due to the coronavirus and I’m worried that I’m going to lose my health insurance – what can I do?

Answer: We have taken action to ensure home care workers who have Union health insurance won’t lose their coverage if their hours go down as a result of COVID-19. Caregivers will need to notify the Health Benefits Trust that their hours dropped below 80 hours per month as a result of COVID-19, and they will be granted a coverage extension. Keep an eye on your email for details from our Health Benefits Trust on how to report that you’ve lost hours and need this coverage extension.

In response to the outbreak of COVID-19, the Health Care Authority (HCA) is taking steps to ensure that individuals maintain continuity of their Classic Apple Health (Medicaid) coverage. You can find details on the new changes for eligibility here.

Lost Hours:
Question: I lost hours or lost a client due to the COVID-19 – what can I do?

Answer: Depending on your situation, you can apply for Unemployment Insurance, Worker’s Comp/L&I, Paid Family Leave Act, or use PTO. You can learn more by clicking below – including taking a quiz that can help point you in the direction of the best resource for you. If you are interested in getting hours with a new client, you can also sign up at CarinaCare.com.

Working People:
Question: With so many people losing hours and jobs, is there anything we can do to help?

Answer: We know that many people that work at closed businesses are out of work. We are joining with SEIU nationally and other unions to demand economic stimulus focused on working people, not big corporations. Among other things, we are calling for meaningful income replacement checks for all, regardless of citizenship or employment status. You can find out more at protectallworkers.org.

Resources:

Gloves: IPs serving Medicaid and state-only-funded clients have access to gloves as part of each client’s health benefits, thanks to our Union contract. To learn how to get them, click here.

Delivery of in-home personal care and Adult Day Health services during the COVID-19 outbreak: Please read recommendations by DSHS regarding delivery of in-home personal care services.

Overtime limits to protect parent providers and live-in caregivers: While they are not eliminating the workweek limits across the board, the state has indicated that they are likely to approve temporarily waiving the overtime workweek limits on a case-by-case basis, especially where there is a concern about bringing additional caregivers into a shared living situation in a way that would increase risk of transmitting COVID-19. You can send a letter to your caseworker requesting an Exception to Client Specific Work Week Limit (CSWWL) to be able to exceed your work week limit and provide all of your client’s authorized hours. We have a template you can use here.

If you experience symptoms of, or believe you were exposed to COVID-19, call these hotlines:

  • Washington State Department of Health Coronavirus hotline: 1-800-525-0127 between 6 am and 10 pm
  • King County Coronavirus hotline: 206-477-3977 between 8 am and 7 pm

Find your local Health Department online here  – Washington State Department of Health

Montana Information: Information and resources for Montanans is available here.


SEIU 775 and SEIU 775 Benefits Group Resources

How to get Vaccinated: Find out how to get yourself and your client vaccinated here.

SEIU 775 in the News: Read about what caregivers are doing and how the COVID-19 outbreak is affecting us.

Access to COVID-19 Testing and Health Benefits: Learn more information from SEIU 775 Benefits Group.

HCA Certification Exam Rescheduling: Learn more information from SEIU 775 Benefits Group.

Training Information and Updates for Caregivers: Learn more information from SEIU 775 Benefits Group.


Lost Hours

Apply for Unemployment Insurance, Workers’ Comp/L&I, Paid Family Leave Act, or use PTO:


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Resources

Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19): Official overview and information from the CDC.

Guidance for Long-Term Care Facilities, Nursing Homes: Additional information for facilities and nursing homes.

Cleaning and Disinfection Recommendations: Environmental cleaning and disinfection recommendations.

Preventing COVID-19 from Spreading: Information on preventing the spread of coronavirus in homes and residential communities.


Fact Sheets (Multilingual)

Public Health COVID-19 Fact Sheet – Seattle and King County

Facts about Novel Coronavirus and How to Prevent COVID-19 – Seattle Times

2019 Novel Coronavirus: A Fact Sheet for Healthcare Workers – SEIU

Multilingual Coronavirus Fact Sheet – Washington State Department of Health

SEIU 775 President Sterling Harders: “Caregiving is work typically done by women, who work alone in someone’s home. They have no process or place to report or respond when they feel they are at danger at work. These bills will make the care environment safer for both caregivers and the people they care for by creating safety, prevention, and reporting standards. Everyone deserves to feel safe while giving and receiving care.”

OLYMPIA, WA – Today, House Bill 2681 – a bill that addresses the harassment, abuse, and discrimination of caregivers – was successfully voted out of the Washington state House Labor & Workplace Standards Committee. It joins companion bill Senate Bill 6205, which was voted out of the Senate Health and Long Term Care Committee yesterday, in moving to the respective Ways and Means Committees for the next vote.

Caregivers testified in support of both these bills on Jan. 28 before the House Labor & Workplace Standards Committee and on Jan. 15 before the Senate Health and Long Term Care Committee, urging the legislature to pass these powerful and comprehensive policies that ensure everyone can feel safe while giving and receiving care.

Caregivers shared their experiences with incidents of harassment, abuse, and discrimination – which can come from anyone in the care environment, including other people residing in or visiting their client’s home, friends, family, or neighbors. The impact is more than an immediate reaction. It affects caregivers’ health, wellbeing, and quality of care. Additionally, it leads to increased turnover among direct care workers, which can lower quality of care for clients.

Historically, caregivers – the majority of whom are low-income and women of color – have been excluded from basic workplace protection standards. But in this moment in this country, people, especially women, are stepping up and demanding a safer work environment. Caregiving is no different.

“Caregiving is work typically done by women, who work alone in someone’s home. They have no process or place to report or respond when they feel they are at danger at work,” said SEIU 775 President Sterling Harders. “These bills will make the care environment safer for both caregivers and the people they care for by creating safety, prevention, and reporting standards. Everyone deserves to feel safe while giving and receiving care.”

Senate Bill 6205 is sponsored in the Washington state Senate by Andy Billig, 3rd District, Spokane; Annette Cleveland, 49th District, Vancouver; Steve Conway, 29th District, Tacoma; Manka Dhingra, 45th District, Redmond; David Frockt, 46th District, Seattle, Kenmore, Lake Forest Park; Karen Keiser, 33rd District, Des Moines; Mark Mullet, 5th District, Issaquah; Emily Randall, 26th District, Bremerton; Rebecca Saldaña, 37th District, Seattle; Kevin Van De Wege, 24th District, Sequim.

House Bill 2681 is sponsored in the Washington state House of Representatives by Mike Chapman, 24th District; Eileen Cody, 34th District; Lauren Davis, 32nd District; Carolyn Eslick, 39th District; Noel Frame, 36th District; Roger Goodman, 45th District; Mia Gregerson, 33rd District; Paul Harris, 17th District; Christine Kilduff, 28th District; John Lovick, 44th District; Nicole Macri, 43rd District; Timm Ormsby, 3rd District; Lillian Ortiz-Self, 21st District; Tina Orwall, 33rd District; Gerry Pollet, 46th District; Marcus Riccelli, 3rd District; June Robinson, 38th District; Mike Sells, 38th District; Sharon Shewmake, 42nd District; Monica Jurado Stonier, 49th District; Gael Tarleton, 36th District; My-Linh Thai, 41st District; Steve Tharinger, 24th District; Javier Valdez, 46th District; and Amy Walen, 48th District.

More information on SEIU 775’s campaign to address harassment, abuse, and discrimination (HADit) is available at seiu775.org/HADit

 

After four months and hundreds of caregivers and self-advocates traveling to Olympia to tell their stories and explain to legislators the importance of the legislation we’ve been fighting for, the Washington State Legislative Session has ended and we have a lot to celebrate!

  • Our Caregiver Contract was fully funded with Parity for Agency Caregivers
  • The Long-Term Care Trust Act was passed
  • Both the Alternatives to Guardianship Bill (HB 1329) and the Uniform Guardianship Act (SB 5604) were passed and funded
  • The administrative rate was increased for homecare agencies
  • A pilot project to provide home care services to our vulnerable seniors and persons with disabilities in homeless shelters was funded

All of this was possible because caregivers from across the state came together to stand up for themselves, their clients, and each other. When we show up, we win!When we show up, we win!

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(Please click through here to listen to the radio version of this story.)

February 1, 2019
SEATTLE – Today marks a major achievement for Washington state caregivers in the “Fight for 15.” In-home caregivers represented by Service Employees International Union Local 775 will receive their first paychecks that reflect wages of at least $15 an hour.

Workers started earning the new wage on January 1st, with the most experienced receiving more than $18 an hour.

Desirae Hernandez gave up her job to take care of her father – and after her son was born, became a file-16caregiver. With the pay raise, Hernandez says she won’t have to make tough decisions like choosing between medicine and car payments, and could even save to take her son on a trip.

“He said, ‘Mom, I know we’re not rich with money right now – we are rich with love – but one day when we get rich with money, can we go to Disneyland?’ And so, that’s one of things that I’m hopeful for [with] this raise – to save a little bit of money to do something like that with him,” says Hernandez.

SEIU 775, the State of Washington and individual providers agreed to a contract in 2017 to raise workers’ wages every six months for two years. The union represents more than 45,000 long-term caregivers in the Evergreen State and Montana.

Hernandez says fair compensation is crucial for keeping people in this much-needed profession.

“It’s hard to get enough people to be able to do this job because they could be making more money somewhere else,” says Hernandez. “And that’s sad, because it’s going to end up costing people dignity and our state so much more money if we can’t keep this profession filled with certified people.”

The Fight for 15 has swept the nation since New York fast-food workers in 2012 demanded living wages. Since then, 22 million workers across the country have secured $68 million dollars in wages, according to the National Employment Law Project.

SeaTac and Seattle were among the first cities to adopt $15-an-hour minimum wages.

Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service – WA

What happens when we fight together? We win!

The 2017 –2019 IP Home Care Contract – one of the best home care contracts in the nation – has been fully funded by the state legislature – all because of you. 

For the last six months, thousands of members called and emailed, traveled from around the state and clocked hundreds of hours in lobby visits with legislators. The fight to fully fund the Home Care Contract was an uphill battle, but because of our determination and shared will – ALL CAREGIVERS WILL EARN A LIVING WAGE!!

Here’s is a snapshot of what we have won:

    • All caregivers will get raises every 6 months for the next 2 years. All caregivers will see increases of at least 12-15 percent over the next 18 months.
    • By January 2019, all caregivers will make at least $15 an hour 
    • Our contract also rewards experience. By the end of the contract the most experienced caregivers with advanced training will make more than $18 an hour
    • The caregiver retirement benefit will double
    • Paid-Time-Off increases for all caregivers
    • 15 minutes of paid administrative time each pay period—this is a first-in-the-nation achievement for state-paid home care individual providers!
    • No cuts to our health care benefits
    • New accountability for IPOne which includes new timelines for identifying and fixing problems.

Fifteen years ago, caregivers started SEIU 775. Back then, caregivers made $7.18/hour with no benefits – no health care, no retirement, no vacation and sick leave (PTO), and no workers compensation (L&I). Since then, by uniting together, standing strong, and making our voices heard, we have doubled those wages – and even more than doubled them for experienced caregivers.

We are truly stronger together! You can read the full contract here: State of Washington 2017-2019 CBA.

You’ll be hearing from us with contract news updates, so be sure to stay tuned to the SEIU 775 Facebook page!

In February, neither freezing rain nor snow could keep dozens of caregivers away from Olympia to press legislators to fund our new home care contract with parity for agency providers.

Washington home care workers deserve to make a living wage and not be forced to struggle to make ends meet. That’s why caregivers from Eastern, Central, Southwest Washington and the Peninsula made the journey to tell legislators they should support home care workers and a $15/hour minimum wage.

PurplePresence3.2.17A This is an especially tough budget year in the Legislature, but our team of caregivers were determined to make the voices of 38,000 long-term care workers heard.  Members met legislators and key staff, told their stories, and underscored their clients’ needs—making it clear that the home care workforce deserves to be fairly compensated, and our clients deserve high quality care.

In every meeting, we urged legislators to support what are fighting for:

  • Starting wages that will reach $15/hour and more than $18/hour for the most experienced caregivers who complete additional training.
  • New accountability for IPOne, including firm timelines for identifying and correcting problems.
  • The State’s contribution to our new retirement plan will double.
  • Increased paid time off.
  • First-in-the-nation paid administrative time each month.
  • A new health and safety program for caregivers.

By telling their stories, members worked hard to ensure that home care workers earn living wages and receive payment for the hours worked.

As the legislative session moves forward, members will continue to travel to Olympia to testify and speak up on behalf of caregivers in our state. By working together, we will amplify the need to fund the home care contract with parity for agency home care workers.

We’ll keep emailing and phoning our legislators as we work to pass legislation on these important long-term care issues. To send a letter to your state legislator supporting our contract, please click here.

2017-2019 IP contract bargaining team
Our 2017-2019 IP contract bargaining team

Great news: We reached an agreement with the state on our 2017-2019 contract! ALL Washington State Individual Providers will earn at least $15/hour by 2019 under this contract, and our wage scale will go up to $17.65/hour.

It gets even better. Because we stood together in our union, we once again negotiated the best home care contract in the country, with major increases to our wages and benefits—plus some other highlights.

But our fight is not over: Just like all the other contracts we’ve negotiated, in order for our incredible new wages and benefits to take effect, we need to get it funded by the Legislature.

We’ll have to lobby hard, but when our contract is funded, here’s what we get as of July of 2017, including another first-in-the-nation win for Individual Providers:

  • By the end of the contract, all caregivers will make at least $15/hour—but this contract also rewards experience, with a new top step of the wage scale and significant raises for experienced caregivers. At the end of the contract the most experienced caregivers will make $17.65/hour, not including differentials for things like training and specialized work.
  • All caregivers will get raises every 6 months for the next 3 years. Caregivers get an average wage increases of $1.75/hr over the 2 years of the contract—and the average wage by the end of the contract will be over $16/hr.
  • Our retirement benefit doubles to a state contribution of 50 cents per hour in July 2018.
  • PTO increases to 1 hr for every 28 worked July 1, 2017 and to 1 hr for every 25 hours worked July 1, 2018.
  • 15 minutes of paid administrative time each pay period—this is a first-in-the-nation achievement for state-paid home care individual providers!
  • A new health and safety program, which will first conduct a comprehensive study of caregiver safety needs and then fund $600,000 in safety programs and equipment for caregivers in the second year of the contract.
  • No out-of-pocket cost increases for our health insurance, plus an increase in funding for health and wellness programs. The Benefits Trust will also be able to explore improved benefits.
  • Increase in funding for training will help provide access to training to parent providers and other caregivers exempt from training requirements, and expand training programs in areas such as nurse delegation, CPR/first aid, and mental health.
  • Caregivers who complete certain advanced training will get an additional 50 cents per hour.
  • New accountability for IPOne, including timelines for identifying and fixing problems.
  • New protections against overpayments – caregivers who are working authorized hours must be paid for those hours if they haven’t been notified of termination, even if their contract or background check is incomplete or they have not completed required training.

The contract highlights the importance of the upcoming elections on November 8—negotiating the contract was just the first step. Now we need to get it funded.

This means we need to re-elect caregiver champion Jay Inslee for governor, and elect pro-caregiver candidates to the Legislature this fall.

We have no doubt in our minds that the Freedom Foundation will try to stop us—they want to take away caregivers’ political clout that we’ve built through our union. It’s this power we’ve built together in Olympia that allows us to win time and time again, and as they try to stop us, we’ll just get stronger.

It’s amazing how far we have come since IPs formed a union in 2002—when we made just over $7/hour, had no wage scale, no health insurance, no PTO, no L&I, no tax withholding, certainly no retirement benefit. Imagine where we’ll be in another 14 years!