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COVID-19 information for workers

Expired federal benefit programs

Pandemic Unemployment Assistance 

Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) 

Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) 

When did the benefit extensions expire?

All federal programs that expanded and extended unemployment benefits expired the week ending Sept. 4, 2021. 

What should I do now that the federal benefit programs have ended?

1. Continue filing weekly claims for weeks you want to get benefits.
2. Watch for updates via mail, email, social media and messages in eServices.
3. Respond to any of our requests for information. Even if you have stopped claiming or found a job, we still might need to contact you.
4. Please try not to call our Unemployment Claims Center with general questions. Call volume remains very high. Find the latest information on this page and the COVID-19 page.

What should I do if I’ve used up all my benefits?

If you have used up your benefits and your benefit year has ended, you might be eligible for a new claim. The easiest way to apply is online via eServices. If you can’t apply online, you can call the Unemployment Claims Center.

Get help with your job search
WorkSource can help you find your next job or career. Go to WorkSourceWA.com to get started. Under Resources, use the WorkSource locator to find an office near you and see what services are available virtually and in-person.

Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA)

Are PUA overpayments eligible for waivers?

With the passing of the Continued Assistance for Unemployed Workers Act of 2020, PUA overpayments are now eligible for waiver consideration. You need to apply for an overpayment waiver. Those who are potentially eligible for a waiver will be sent a questionnaire that we will use to determine waiver eligibility. There is a large number of PUA overpayments we need to review before sending the questionnaire and it may take us most of 2023 to do this.

How do I submit a PUA weekly claim if my claim looks grayed out in eServices and says it’s expired?

The PUA program expired on the week ending Sept. 4, 2021. You can’t submit any more PUA weekly claims for weeks after that. However, you might be eligible for a new unemployment claim if your benefit year has ended.

I have been exposed to COVID-19

What if I am asked by a medical professional or public health official to quarantine as a result of COVID-19, but I am not sick?

All eligibility decisions must be made on a case-by-case basis. If you are following guidance issued by a medical professional or public health official to isolate or quarantine yourself as a result of exposure to COVID-19 and you are not receiving paid sick leave from your employer, you may be eligible to receive regular unemployment benefits. 

What should I do if I contract COVID-19 on the job?

See information from the Dept. of Labor and Industries information on Workers’ CompensationIf you plan to apply for unemployment benefits, review COVID-19 information on our website.

What is a request to isolate or quarantine?

A request to isolate or quarantine is:

  • A letter documenting a voluntary request or involuntary order to isolate or quarantine from a medical professional, local health official, or the Secretary of Health.
  • A note from your medical provider or medical records office recommending isolation or quarantine.
  • A self-determination that Department of Health’s quarantine guidance applies to you.
  • An order from Gov. Inslee to "Stay Home, Stay Healthy."

Do I qualify for unemployment benefits if I become seriously ill and I am forced to quit my job as a result of COVID-19?

If you are too ill to be able and available for work or to work remotely, you do not qualify for regular unemployment benefits. As with any illness, you could be eligible for Paid Family and Medical Leave if your healthcare provider certifies your illness meets the definition of “serious health condition” and you have the qualifying hours. Once you recover and are again able and available for work, you may qualify for unemployment benefits.  

My work has changed because of COVID-19

I’m not working because of COVID-19. Should I apply for unemployment benefits or paid leave?

You might be eligible for either, but you can’t receive both unemployment and paid leave benefits during the same week. Both programs pay benefits on a weekly basis.

Applying is the best way to find out. We make decisions about your eligibility on a case-by-case basis.

Here are some things to consider to help you decide how to proceed.

To qualify for paid leave benefits, you must:

  • Provide proof of a qualifying event. We generally don’t consider being in quarantine for COVID-19 a qualifying event.
  • Have worked at least 820 hours in your qualifying period. New legislation expanded the qualifying period for those who worked fewer hours due to the pandemic, so you may still be eligible.

To qualify for unemployment benefits, you must:

  • Have worked at least 680 hours in your base year. See an explanation of your base year under the How can I estimate my weekly benefit amount? section.
  • Have earned at least some wages in Washington state, unless you recently left the military and are currently located in Washington.
  • Look for work and document your job search each week.

Learn more about applying for unemployment benefits.

If an employer requires vaccinations and an employee refuses to get one, is the employee entitled to unemployment benefits?

When an employee’s separation is the result of failure to comply with an employer’s requirement to become vaccinated, ESD will examine a number of factors. These factors may include when the employer adopted the requirement, whether the employee is otherwise eligible for benefits, the specific terms of the vaccine policy including allowable exemptions, and the reason why the employee did not comply with the vaccine requirement.

For example, when the employer offered religious or medical accommodations, but the employee does not qualify for an accommodation and does not comply with the vaccine requirement, a claim would likely be denied. However, some individuals may still qualify based on their own unique circumstances. ESD will evaluate each case on its own merit.

My employer has shut down operations temporarily because an employee is sick and we have been asked to isolate or quarantine as a result of COVID-19. Am I eligible for unemployment benefits?

It depends. Eligibility is determined on a case-by-case basis. If your employer is paying you sick leave or paid time off (PTO) for full-time work, you will not be eligible for unemployment benefits. If you receive paid sick leave or paid time off for fewer than your normal hours worked, you may qualify for partial benefits. Apply for benefits to find out if you're eligible. 

What if my employer goes out of business as a result of COVID-19? 

If your employer goes out of business and you are out of work due to a lack of work, you may be eligible for regular unemployment benefits. Apply for benefits to find out if you're eligible. 

What if I am temporarily laid off work because business has slowed down as a result of COVID-19?

Eligibility decisions are made on a case-by-case basis. If you are laid off work temporarily or your hours are reduced due to a business slowdown or a lack of demand as a result of COVID-19, you may be able to receive unemployment benefits.

  • Standbyis a job search waiver. When it is requested by you or your employer, and approved by the department, it allows workers to collect unemployment benefits without needing to search for work. You can learn more about job search requirements on our job search requirements page.

I am an independent contractor. Am I eligible for unemployment?

Maybe! Coverage under Washington's unemployment insurance law is broader than under most other laws. This means that just because you are classified as an independent contractor under some laws does not mean that you are an independent contractor under Washington's unemployment laws. If you are an independent contractor who has been laid off or lost work, we encourage you to apply for benefits. We will evaluate each application for eligibility on a case by case basis. 

If you decide to apply for benefits, to help speed the process for determining your eligibility and potential benefit amount, please be prepared to gather your payment records from the last tax year to provide to the claims staff.

My existing unemployment claim has been impacted by COVID-19

I received a letter saying that I need to schedule and attend a required appointment with an employment specialist at WorkSource. Do I still need to schedule and attend?

Yes. As of Jan. 11, 2021, you must schedule and attend a virtual online or phone appointment if you receive the letter. The only exception:

  • If you have returned to work full time, you don’t need to schedule the appointment. Before the deadline, you must call or email the WorkSource office listed in your letter. Give us your employer’s name, address, phone number and the date you started work.

If you have returned to work part time, you still need to schedule and attend the virtual online or phone appointment.

Carefully follow instructions in the letter. If you don’t schedule and attend the virtual online or phone appointment, we may deny your unemployment benefits and you may have to repay some or all of the benefits you received.

During your appointment, we will help you with your resume, retraining information, referrals to in-demand jobs, and more. We will make your time worthwhile! Research shows that people who use WorkSource get back to work sooner and earn higher wages than people who don’t.

How am I supposed to meet deadlines related to my existing unemployment claim if I am in isolation or quarantine as a result of COVID-19?

Under the emergency rules we put into place as a result of COVID-19, we are providing more leniency for many unemployment deadlines. Submit your documents as soon as you are able and provide as much information as you can. When we receive them, we will decide if we need to change any previous decisions we made about your benefits.

Progress reports for training programs can be submitted with whatever information you have available. For example, if your school has closed, return your paperwork and tell us.  

How long do I need to wait to be paid if I am eligible for unemployment benefits?

You do not get paid for the first week you are eligible for unemployment benefits. This is called the waiting week. If you remain eligible, we will pay you the following week.

If I’ve been collecting unemployment benefits and either I or a family member gets sick with COVID-19, what options do I have for benefits if I need to recover or must provide care for someone?

If you have been receiving unemployment benefits and are now sick with COVID-19 or need to take care of a loved one who is sick with COVID-19, you may not be considered able and available for work. However, you can also apply for benefits with Paid Family and Medical Leave. To be eligible, a health care provider must certify that you or your family member have a "serious health condition."

You cannot receive both unemployment benefits and Paid Family or Medical Leave during the same week. You need to stop claiming unemployment benefits when you start claiming Paid Family or Medical Leave. You don't need to cancel your unemployment claim. Please visit Paid Family and Medical Leave's website for more information. Eligibility decisions for both unemployment and Paid Family and Medical Leave are made on a case-by-case basis. 

School closures

The school I work at is closed due to COVID-19. Am I eligible for unemployment benefits?

Eligibility decisions are made on a case-by-case basis. If you are being paid while your school is closed, you can apply for benefits, but you may be considered fully employed and not eligible. If your school is not paying you while it is closed, you may be eligible for benefits. You will not be able to use your school wages to establish your weekly benefit amount during a scheduled break if it’s determined you have reasonable assurance to return to work following the break. You must be able and available for work that can be done while following the recommendations from the state Department of Health during each week you claim.

My child’s school is closed due to COVID-19. Am I eligible for unemployment benefits?

It depends. Your first and best option is employer-paid time off because it will pay 100% of your wages. However, if you cannot go to work because you don’t have childcare for your child while school is closed, and you do not have the ability to telework, you should call your employer and let them know why you are absent. If your employer fires you or lays you off while you are absent, you may qualify for benefits. However, you are required to be able and available for work. If you can't do your job remotely and you don't have childcare to enable you to return to your job or accept a work offer, you will not be eligible for regular unemployment benefits.

When is my child’s school considered “closed”?

If your child’s school is using a full-time remote learning model or a hybrid of remote learning and in-person classes, the school is considered closed. If the school is open, but you choose to keep your child home for remote learning, the school is considered open.

I am a substitute teacher who is no longer able to secure work with a school because of the closures. Am I eligible for unemployment benefits?

Eligibility decisions are made on a case-by-case basis. You may be eligible for unemployment. Factors we consider include whether your school is open and, during a scheduled break, whether you have reasonable assurance to return to work with a school employer after the break. You must be able and available for work that can be performed while following the recommendations from the state Department of Health during each week you claim. 

I lost my job and I’m enrolled in college or career school

Am I eligible for benefits? 

It depends. Eligibility decisions are made on a case-by-case basis. The best thing you can do to find out if you’re eligible for benefits is apply

Returning to work questions

Please visit the Return to work page for a range of resources for workers and employers, including frequently asked questions from workers and information on situations where an employee may decline to return to work.


Return to COVID-19 Page