Posted By PayNW April 19, 2020

Washington State’s Employment Security Department (ESD) rolled out emergency rules last week that ease the burden of temporary layoffs for workers and employers during the COVID-19 emergency.

Key changes during the COVID-19 emergency are:

  • Employees are eligible for unemployment benefits and employers are eligible for relief of benefit charges if operations need to be temporarily ceased as a result of COVID-19
  • Workers with a minimum of 680 hours are eligible for standby
  • Work search requirements can be waived for employees who are asked to self-isolate by a medical professional or a public health official

Programs to Help Businesses Keep Workers during COVID-19


SharedWork allows employers to reduce the hours of permanent and hourly employees by up to 50% while allowing the employees to collect partial unemployment benefits to replace a portion of their lost wages.


If you need to temporarily cease or scale back operations you may place workers on standby for up to eight weeks during a single claim year. While on standby, your employees can collect unemployment benefits without having to look for other work. They must also accept any work you offer that they can do without breaking isolation or quarantine. Relief of benefit charges cannot be granted in this situation.

Read the March 12, 2020 update from ESD

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