Affected by COVID-19?

The federal stimulus bill that extends CARES Act unemployment benefits was signed into law. Visit the COVID-19 page for the latest information. Please try not to call our Unemployment Claims Center with questions as call volume remains very high.

Temporary layoffs, standby and furloughs

 (en español)

UPDATE: Job search requirements are currently optional until the Pandemic State of Emergency is lifted. You may answer "no" to the job search questions on your weekly claim and you do not need to request standby. 

In the event of a temporary layoff when the employer plans to rehire a laid off employee (or group of employees), we may approve a request to place the worker or group of workers on standby. Standby waives the job search requirements while workers are collecting unemployment benefits during the approved standby period.

To qualify for standby, the worker must:

  • Have been a full-time employee; and
  • Be returning to full-time work; and
  • Have a probable return-to-work date. Workers cannot exceed a total of eight weeks of standby on a claim.

To request standby:

IMPORTANT UPDATE: Under emergency rules, requests for standby can be made for up to 12 weeks by either worker or employer. For additional information, see the COVID-19 page.

  • Workers who have a probable return-to-work date with a current employer within four weeks (28 days)  12 weeks (see note above) can request standby approval for up to four weeks. Workers starting a new job with a new employer may also request standby within two weeks of an expected start date.  In eServices, click on your current UI claim and look under I want to.
  • Employers can request standby for employees with a probable return-to-work date within eight weeks (56 days) 12 weeks (see note above) of the date of the request. Employers should request standby using the "Request for Separation Information" form we send when a worker has applied for unemployment benefits.

Our decision:

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.

Partial employment:

Employers who need to keep operating on a less-than-full time basis can request a status known as “Partial” for their employees; work search while on unemployment is waived if:

• Employees must have been hired to work full time
• They must return to at least 1 week of full time employment within a 4 month period
• Employees must work at least 16 hours per week


Also explore Washington’s SharedWork Program: It helps businesses and employers avoid layoffs by paying employees partial unemployment benefits when their work hours are reduced.



Furloughs are a form of temporary layoff that may consist of a complete stoppage of work or reduced work hours over a period of time (for example, a reduction of one day a week for a year).

Since unemployment benefits are determined on a weekly basis, full-time workers whose hours of work are reduced by one work day each week usually will not be eligible for partial unemployment benefits because they earn too much in the week to be eligible.

If you are placed on furlough, you may apply for unemployment benefits and we will determine if you are eligible. Sign in to eServices or create an account.


Also explore Washington’s SharedWork Program: It helps businesses and employers avoid layoffs by paying employees partial unemployment benefits when their work hours are reduced.  


More information for employers

Notice to base year employer | What we need from you | How we decide on worker benefits | Appeal an unemployment tax decision | Employer FAQs - benefit claims process | Employer FAQs - general | Contact information for employers