Information about unemployment, workers rights, how to advocate for yourself, and protecting yourself from exposure. Find agencies supporting loss of work, employment status changes, and employee protection.
Visit our Safe Start page for more information about the governor’s phased reopening plan. That page also includes industry-specific guidance for safe reopening.
Under the Governor’s “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” proclamation, employers are required to implement a social distancing plan, conduct frequent cleaning and sanitizing, and ensure frequent and proper hand washing.
Businesses are prohibited from operating unless these workplace safety measures are established and implemented in accordance with the following guidance:
The new federal CARES act means unemployment benefits may be available to those impacted by COVID-19 related changes in employment. The state Employment Security Department (ESD) has provided a 4 step process to help ensure unemployment benefits are filed correctly and start quickly.
Washington state takes unemployment insurance fraud very seriously. If you have reason to believe someone has applied for unemployment benefits using your information or used a scam to obtain your private information, please report it. The fraud-reporting contacts listed are for Washington state only.
There is important information to know about unemployment as our economy beings to re-open. The state Employment Security Department has developed frequently asked questions about returning to work for employers and workers.
Employers are directed to use all available options as employees return to work under the governor’s “safe start” plan. Employees who do not believe it is safe to work due to the risk of COVID-19 exposure may have access to financial support. These programs include expanded family and medical leave included in the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, unemployment benefits, paid sick leave or other paid time off, depending on individual circumstances.
Workers are encouraged to engage employers directly to resolve any identified safety concerns. To report safety violations, workers have two options:
Workers in Washington who refuse to perform unsafe job duties may be protected from discrimination under Washington Industrial Safety and Health Act (WISHA) requirements as administered through the Department of Labor and Industries (L&I).
Workers who are retaliated against for filing a complaint, or for bringing up safety concerns to their employer, may file a complaint (pdf).
A worker may file an unemployment claim at the same time they initiate a discrimination action with Labor and Industries (L&I). Unemployment claims are addressed on a case-by-case basis. Nonetheless, the following scenarios can be a useful guide:
Note: Per federal guidance, quitting work without good cause to obtain unemployment benefits is fraud.
The Employment Security Department (ESD) has resources to help with frequently asked questions related to emergency rules and COVID-19 related claims.
Under certain circumstances, claims from health care workers and first responders for exposure to coronavirus will be allowed. Other claims that meet certain criteria for exposure will be considered on a case-by-case basis. For a claim to be accepted, there must be a documented or probable work-related exposure, and an employee/employer relationship.
L&I has answers to commonly asked questions online.
The Governor issued Proclamation 20-46 (pdf) that requires employers to offer high-risk employees, as defined by the CDC, alternative work assignments, including telework, alternative, or remote work locations, and if an alternative assignment is not feasible, retain the position of the high risk worker. The proclamation expires June 12, 2020, unless otherwise extended.
View the most frequently asked questions regarding employment.
Employees have protections relevant to COVID-19 state proclamations. Find out what protections exist for workers of essential and non-essential employers.