Washington REALTORS® recently provided the following clarification on Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA):
QUESTION: Some counties in Washington State are now in Phase 2 or Phase 3 of the Safe Start plan, which allows limited opening of real estate offices so long as specific protocols are followed. If a county is in Phase 2 or Phase 3, do real estate brokers become ineligible for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA)?
ANSWER: No. A real estate broker may be eligible for PUA even if they are located in a county that has advanced to Phase 2 or 3. PUA eligibility is not determined by the specific phase of the state’s Safe Start plan, it is based on the PUA eligibility requirement of the federal CARES Act. If a real estate broker is unable to work full-time because of the COVID-19 pandemic, they are eligible to apply for PUA and can continue to claim PUA benefits even if their county moves into Phase 2 or Phase 3. Whether a specific person will receive PUA benefits, and how much, will depend on their income from real estate and other work, and other factors. It is important for real estate brokers to note that if they receive income after being paid PUA benefits, that additional income must be reported to ESD so that the PUA benefit amount can be recalculated. This could result in a repayment requirement from the real estate broker to ESD. As the state’s Safe Start plan continues, ESD will be making changes to the PUA program that could affect REALTORS® eligibility so please look to Get the Facts emails (on Tuesdays) or other emails we send for future guidance.
These resources are being provided to Designated Brokers to safely re-open real estate offices under the mandated protocols if you decide to re-open at this time.
On June 1st, the Governor’s “Safe Start Proclamation” for Washington’s phased reopening is effective. This includes modifications for real estate activities in counties that have been approved for Phase 2 re-opening (and those approved for modified Phase 1 re-opening). One of those modifications allows for a real estate firm, in a Phase 2 or modified Phase 1 county, to re-open its office in a limited fashion. In order to re-open, a firm must adhere to the many required protocols for real estate, including those for professional services office space working environments. There are additional restrictions for modified Phase 1 counties.
Washington REALTORS® has developed resources that firms can use to safely re-open their offices in compliance with the required safety protocols. Of course, firms are not required to re-open and some may choose to delay re-opening until a later date. Firms may also choose to develop their own resources and plans to comply with the Governor’s requirements. Note that future phases of the Governor’s plan (e.g. Phase 3) will likely have similar requirements for offices to open.
The resources developed by Washington REALTORS® include the following, all required by the Order:
- Governor’s Phase 2 Requirements
- COVID-19 Exposure Control Mitigation and Recovery Plan
- Washington REALTORS® FAQ Document (Updated 06/05/20)
- Office Signs
- Entry Door Sign
- Training PowerPoint
- Washington REALTORS® Office Training Video (11 minutes)
- COVID-19: How to Prevent Transmission (3 Minutes)
- COVID-19: Hygiene, Sanitization, Disinfection, and Social Distancing Protocols (2 Minutes)
Please be sure to thoroughly review the COVID-19 Exposure Control, Mitigation, and Recovery Plan (the “Plan”) and make sure that your firm can and will comply with all of the requirements before re-opening. The Plan requires that a site-specific supervisor be designated to monitor the health of workers and apply all components of the Plan.
The Department of Labor & Industries is charged with ensuring that firms comply with the required protocols in the Order and can issue citations and fines for unsafe workplace conditions.
Here are several links with additional resources that should be reviewed:
- CDC Guidelines for Cleaning and Disinfecting
- Dept. of L&I – General Requirements and Prevention Ideas for Workplaces
- Dept. of Health – Workplace and Employer Resources & Recommendations
- NAR Team Store PPE
- Association of Washington Businesses PPE Resources
- Digital Forehead Thermometers
The list of counties moving to different phases will continue to change. A map showing the status of each county is available here and we will post on our social media channels when our counties advance to new phases.
Washington REALTORS® will continue to provide additional updates and information for real estate firms in the coming weeks.