OLYMPIA, WA — May 7, 2019 — The Washington State Legislature recently passed SB 5258, a bill aimed at preventing sexual harassment and assault of certain isolated workers. The isolated worker bill creates additional regulations for businesses employing workers who operate in isolated settings, such as hotels, motels, and property service contractors, and these regulations could impact cleaning and facility management companies, according to ISSA.
ISSA reports that the bill requires every hotel, motel, retail store, security guard contractor, and property services contractor with employees to adopt a sexual harassment policy and mandatory sexual harassment training, as well as provide a list of resources for employees and a panic button to each isolated worker.
Additionally, the isolated worker bill requires the Washington Department of Labor and Industries to begin licensing property service contractors. The licensing procedure must require property service contractors to provide the following information to the department: the date of adoption of a sexual harassment policy; the number of employees trained; the total number of employees who perform janitorial services; the total hours worked; and the physical addresses of locations where janitorial services are provided.
If this bill was applied to residential cleaners (such as carpet cleaners), it would require businesses to report each of the unique home addresses of the clients they serve, which would be a significant privacy concern for customers whose information would then be public record, according to ISSA.
However, some of ISSA’s members in Washington were able to suggest some key changes to the bill, including language that defines a property service contractor as an “entity that employs workers: (i) To perform labor for another person to provide commercial janitorial services; or (ii) on behalf of an employer to provide commercial janitorial services.”
Since the U.S. Bureau of Labor does not include residential cleaning in its definition of “janitorial services,” ISSA believes that the isolated worker bill will not be applied to residential cleaning businesses; however, the language does not specifically exempt residential cleaners. The details of implementing this legislation will be determined by the Washington Department of Labor and Industries, so ISSA reports that it will remain involved as the requirements are finalized.