COVID-19 Premium Pay Extended

Greetings Community Transit Colleagues,

This month we reach the one-year milestone of our COVID-19 pandemic response. Your commitment to each other and to the people we serve during this incredibly challenging year has been remarkable.

From the earliest days, we have followed the Washington State and county public health guidance to keep customers, employees and their families safe. The state is currently following Governor Inslee’s Healthy Washington – Roadmap to Recovery plan (https://coronavirus.wa.gov/what-you-need-know/safe-start), which combines Snohomish, King and Pierce Counties into one Puget Sound Region and tracks our metrics as one region.

The Puget Sound Region is currently in Phase 2 of the Governor’s plan. The good news is that positive case counts have been trending down in our county and vaccinations have begun. You may have also seen in the news earlier this week that the federal government has committed to distributing enough doses to vaccinate all adults by the end of May. We are optimistic that this will mean our employees will be able to get vaccinated by the end of May, if not sooner.

Until then, we need to stay vigilant in following safety protocol to keep bending the case curve downward. While we’re heading in the right direction, the number of cases is still relatively high and we have seen new, more contagious strains of the virus emerging in our region. I appreciate all that you are doing to continue to protect yourselves, your loved ones, each other and our customers against the spread of the virus.

Timeframe for Returning to Base

The guidelines in the Governor’s plan encourage employees who can telework to continue to do so until the Puget Sound Region reaches Phase 4 of this plan. This is to protect the health and safety of all employees. With fewer people on base, we can accommodate physical distancing and other safety measures to ensure everyone is working in a safe environment.

We have made the decision to extend our teleworking policy until July 6, 2021. We selected this date based on these factors:

  • As noted above, based on the latest public information, we anticipate that most employees who choose to be vaccinated will be able to do so by the end of May.
  • We anticipate that the increase in vaccination supply over the course of the spring early summer will result in lower case rates by July.

When we do return to base, it will be planned to occur in waves.  A cross-functional committee of employees began work last year to plan how a phased-in return to base could work. I’ve asked that team to review and update that draft plan now based on the most current public health information and will share updates in the next few weeks. Please be assured that we will work with employees to provide support and flexibility as needed to facilitate a smooth return to a more normal pattern of work at Community Transit.

If our region moves into Phase 4 of the Governor’s Safe Start plan before July 6, there may be an opportunity for some employees to return to base on a voluntary basis. If we are not in Phase 4 by July 6, the return to base date will be extended. We will monitor this closely and provide updates as soon as we can.

Until then, if you are able to work remotely, it remains a requirement that you do so unless you have approval from your manager. This is the case even if you are vaccinated. We are following health district and state guidelines to ensure the safety of all of our employees. 

COVID-19 Premium Pay Extended

Given the case counts currently and the discovery of alternate viral strains in the region, I made the decision this week to extend COVID-19 Premium Pay through April 3, 2021. As a reminder, COVID-19 Premium Pay was implemented for a second time in November and is a 10% increase in pay for each hour employees are required to be on-site or in the field. We continue to recognize the role these employees play in ensuring our essential service remains available for community members who use transit for their own essential travel.

As we get closer to April, the executive leadership team will again review a number of factors, including our Puget Sound Region metrics and agency case counts, to determine when to conclude COVID-19 Premium Pay.

Thank you again for all that you do. I am very encouraged by your ongoing commitment to each other and our community – not missing a single day of service since the pandemic began. 

If you have any questions about these policy changes, please reach out to your director or your employee engagement generalist.