Isolated workers and the law: How to stay in compliance
A bill passed in the 2019 legislative session and took effect in Jan. 2021 that now applies to a large portion of Washington’s hospitality businesses. The law requires all employers in hotel, motel, retail, property services or a security guard entity to have all the following:
- Adopt a sexual harassment policy;
- Provide specific mandatory anti-harassment training to the employer’s managers, supervisors, and employees including;
- Provide a list of resources to employees to utilize. Resources must include contact information for;
- The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
- The Washington state Human Rights Commission
- Local advocacy groups focused on preventing sexual harassment and sexual assault
- Provide a panic button to employees who spend the majority of their working hours alone and is employed as a janitor, security guard, hotel or motel housekeeper, or room service attendant.
What is a panic button?
A panic button is defined in law as, “an emergency contact device carried by an employee by which the employee may summon immediate on-scene assistance from another worker, a security guard, or a representative of the employer.”
- There is no mention in the law about a specific brand or type of panic button you must use.
- Employers are free to make the choice that best fits for their employees, location and business.
- Examples of a panic button that could work under this definition are: a cell phone, walky-talky, or another device through a vendor.
- The Washington Hospitality Association has a few allied members who offer panic buttons and systems. They are RF Technologies, TraknProtect and React Mobile.
What to do if you are called by a company who gives you a quote for a panic button system?
- This is likely a sales call and you do not have to go with this company or the quote you are given.
- All businesses have been required to be in compliance since January of 2021, so a call from an agency enforcing this law is possible, but you have options under the law and do not have to go with one, specific type of system.
What are my training options for my employees?
The Washington Hospitality Association Education Foundation recommends the following training options for employees:
- For Restaurants: ServSafe Workplace harassment prevention products
- For Hotels: Sexual Harassment Prevention for Hospitality Industry Employees
The Washington Hospitality Association supports employee safety and supports this law.
- If you have questions about any of the training requirements or how to develop any of the policies listed above, please contact your Territory Manager, or the main office at 360.956.7279 For additional resources, please log in to the HUB at access.wahospitality.org