Washington State Passes Isolated Worker Harassment Training Bill

April 29, 2019

A bill passed April 26 in Washington state that may impact residential cleaners. business service contractors, and other cleaning service providers operating in the state. SB 5258 aims to address workplace harassment issues related to isolated workers by creating some additional requirements for our members.

In short, the bill:

  1. Requires every hotel, motel, retail, or security guard entity, or property services contractor, who employs an employee to register with the state, adopt a sexual harassment policy, provide mandatory sexual harassment training, provide a list of resources to employees, and provide a panic button to each isolated worker.
  2. Requires the Washington Department of Labor and Industries to establish procedures for licensing property service contractors. The rules must require that a property service contractor 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 workers employed by the property service contractor who perform janitorial services; the total hours worked; and the physical addresses of locations where janitorial services are provided by an employee of the property service contractor.

Hotels and motels with 60 or more rooms must comply by January 1, 2020 while all other identified employers must comply by January 1, 2021.

With the help of some of our active members in Washington, ISSA was able to get some key changes to the bill. The big one is the language in defining a property service contractor.

According to the final bill, “‘Property services contractor’ means any person or 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.”

While this definition of property services contractors does not explicitly exempt residential cleaners, ISSA believes that much like the California and Oregon laws, that this should interpreted by the department as not applying to these businesses. The U.S. Bureau of Labor’s definition of “janitorial”services does not include residential cleaning.

The original bill would have been particularly problematic for residential cleaners because they often smaller businesses that serve hundreds or even thousands of unique residences per year. The requirement to report the addresses of every customer would bring up major privacy concerns for customers as those addresses would be public record.

Since the details of this legislation will be finalized by the Department of Labor and Industries, ISSA will stay engaged and make the case that our residential cleaners do not fall under the purview of this law.

ISSA is also hoping to be part of the discussion when it comes to drafting the requirements for sexual harassment training given our experience providing top quality education and training for the cleaning industry already.

Thank you again to our wonderful members in Washington state for speaking up and having their voice heard. ISSA Advocacy will continue to stay engaged on this issue and keep our members informed as the rules and regulations are drafted.