Workers

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.

Good to Know

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There is a high volume of fraudulent claims for unemployment benefits. If you think someone is using your information to claim unemployment, report it.
A collection of information for employers and workers in the agriculture industry.
Find information about childcare, food, housing and utilities support and other ways to help your family.
Find information about the governor’s vaccine requirements for employees and contractors of state agencies, health care providers, educational institutions and childcare settings.

Unemployment benefits

Visit the Employment Security Department (ESD) COVID-19 info page for updates about state and federal unemployment benefit programs. Questions? Contact ESD.

Job search requirement is back

Visit the Job search requirements page for more information.

WorkSource assists job seekers and businesses

Employment Security (ESD) is a proud partner in the statewide WorkSource system, which provides employment and training assistance to job seekers and businesses. WorkSourceWA.com provides access to thousands of Washington jobs and other employment resources. WorkSource staff can connect you with employers hiring right now in your community, identify training opportunities or help you brush up on your application and interview skills. Find your nearest WorkSource center on the WorkSource office locator page.

Federal pandemic unemployment benefits ended

The CARES Act and other federal programs that expanded and extended unemployment benefits expired the week ending Sept. 4, 2021. Visit ESD's COVID-19 info page to learn more. 

The best and fastest way to apply for unemployment benefits is online. You can also apply by phone, but wait times are very long. You can also join online webinars that provide more information about unemployment insurance

Follow lni.wa.govesd.wa.gov, and coronavirus.wa.gov/news for the most up-to-date information.

Unemployment benefits fraud

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

Workers concerned about workplace conditions have options to report

Workers are encouraged to engage employers directly to resolve any identified safety concerns. To report safety violations, workers have two options: 

Workers are protected from discrimination for raising safety complaints

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.

Individuals unable to work due to COVID-19 risk may qualify for Unemployment Insurance support

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: 

ALLOWABLE 

  • An individual working at a worksite that does not follow guidelines published by the U.S. Department of Labor and Washington State Department of Health and who is unable to telework.
  • An individual at high-risk for severe illness, in the same household as a person identified as high-risk or providing direct care for a person identified as high-risk who is therefore unable to work and is unable to telework.
  • An individual must stay home to care for a young child because school or daycare is closed.

NOT ALLOWABLE 

  • An individual that quits work for an essential employer maintaining a worksite that does meet guidelines published by the U.S. Department of Labor and Washington State Department of Health.

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, as well as webinars that provide more information about unemployment insurance

Unemployment claims may be filed online or by phone at 800-318-6022. 

Work based exposures and illness may be eligible for Workers Compensation

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.

Follow lni.wa.govesd.wa.gov, and coronavirus.wa.gov/news for the most up-to-date information. 

High-risk Workers are afforded expanded protection

The governor issued Proclamation 20-46, which 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 will remain in effect through the duration of the state of emergency or until otherwise rescinded or amended.

Additionally, the state's Health Emergency Labor Standards Act established workplace requirements for an infectious or contagious disease like COVID-19 during a declared public health emergency.

Frequently Asked Questions for Workers

View the most frequently asked questions regarding employment.