Business alert for those impacted by the partial government shutdown!

Updated Jan. 28, 2019

Dear Washington state business owner,

Even though the federal government has reopened until Feb.15, the effects on businesses may linger.

ESD is mobilized and ready to help businesses through this challenging economic hardship using some of the unemployment tools designed specifically for businesses: 

Standby: This can be useful anytime you have a short-term dip in business and want to encourage staff to return to work for you. Workers who are laid off but have a probable return-to-work date with a current employer within four weeks (28 days) can request “standby”  approval for up to four weeks. Employers can request to extend that date to within eight weeks (56 days). Workers granted standby status by ESD are not required to look for work while collecting unemployment benefits.

SharedWork: Instead of completely laying off employees, consider SharedWork. It provides flexibility to you by paying partial unemployment benefits to your workers when you need to reduce their hours by 10 to 50 percent. Please go online or call our program specialists at 800-752-2500 to assist you in determining your immediate eligibility.

We’re here to help you keep the lights on and your doors open so you can maintain your workforce and stay competitive during tough times.

Suzi LeVine, Commissioner
Employment Security Department

Unemployment benefits for your employees

Q. Who is eligible for unemployment benefits?
A. The following categories of workers are eligible to apply for unemployment benefits

Furloughed federal workers (temporary leave without pay) are eligible for benefits, as long as you meet other eligibility requirements.

On January 24, 2019, Washington state Governor Jay Inslee implemented emergency rule-making to give unemployment benefits to federal workers who are working without pay during the partial shutdown. Federal employees working full time or part time without pay can go to this special Schedule a Call Back page to schedule a day and time range for one of our claims agents to call them back to help them apply for unemployment benefits.

Federal contractors or other private sector employees who are laid off because of the shutdown, may be eligible for unemployment benefits.

For more information, employees should visit our Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page about applying to unemployment benefits during the partial government shutdown.

Standby status for your employees

Q. What is standby?
A. Workers who have a probable return-to-work date with a current employer within four weeks (28 days) can request standby approval for up to four weeks. Workers who are granted standby status by ESD are not required to look for work while collecting unemployment benefits.

If you expect to hire back laid off employees once the government shutdown is over, you could encourage them to apply for unemployment benefits and request standby status.

Q. How can your employees request standby status?
When an employee applies for unemployment benefits they may ask to be placed on standby if they:

  • Are a full-time employee and
  • Expect to return to full-time work with their regular employer once the shutdown ends.

They should request standby status as follows:

  • Answer “yes” to the question, “Do you have a definite return-to-work date with this employer on or before mm/dd/yyyy?”
  • When asked for the specific date they will return to work, they should enter a date four weeks (28 days) in the future.

If they apply by phone, tell the claims agent that you are unemployed as a direct result of the federal shutdown and expect to return to work once the shutdown ends.

Q. What do employers need to do if an employee requests standby status?
A. Employers can request standby for employees with a probable return-to-work date within eight weeks (56 days) of the date of the request. Employers should request standby status by completing and returning the "Request for Separation Information" form we send you when a worker has applied for unemployment benefits.

Q. How is a standby decision communication to workers and employers?
Workers and employers will receive a standby decision in the mail.

  • If approved, it starts with the date we receive the request.
  • If denied, the requester can appeal our decision.

SharedWork program

Q. What is the SharedWork program?
A. In place of completely laying off your employees, the SharedWork program provides flexibility to employers in retaining their skilled employees at reduced hours, from 10 to 50 percent. Thousands of Washington employers have used the SharedWork program to:

  • Support business stability
  • Retain skilled workers
  • Reduce payroll costs
  • Be a smart alternative to layoffs
  • Explore training programs that develop workforce skills

Q. How do I apply to participate in the SharedWork program?
A. Follow these steps to learn if you are eligible and how to apply

  1. Review the eligibility requirements
  2. Call us at 800-752-2500 if you have additional questions
  3. Check out all the various ways to apply for the SharedWork Program

For more information, check out the SharedWork resources page.