COVID-19 & Washington State’s Employment Security Department

By May 13, 2020COVID-19

In Washington, associates can be eligible for standby status which eliminates their need to search for work while drawing benefits. Standby status is available for all associates who have been laid off or had their hours reduced. The state does notes that associates must accept all work offers while on standby status provided it does not violate any isolation or quarantine requirements during the COVID-19 pandemic. The state made these benefits available for up to 12 weeks for all associates impacted by COVID-19.

However, the Employment Security Department does wish to communicate that the automatic 12-week allowance for individuals with active unemployment claims will come to an end as Washington begins to reopen businesses. Employers can request an extension of the standby status for up to an additional 12 weeks in the event that work is still not available.  Employers can request an extension once the “Stay at Home” order is lifted by sending a written request to with a list of associates that need to remain on standby and an estimated return-to-work date. Please be aware that associates will still be required to accept any work that is offered while on extended standby as long as the work offer does not violate any of the associate’s isolation or quarantine requirements. Employers who determine they will not reopen must notify the agency so that their associates can be removed from standby status.

More information on standby benefits can be found on the state’s website: Other unemployment information can be found here:


Our office will monitor COVID-19 updates closely and will send out additional announcements as we become aware of any updates. You can also review these updates on our website at too.

Please reach out to your representative with any questions.

Mike Parker

Author Mike Parker

Mike has 30 years of experience in unemployment cost control management, and has been with Thomas & Company for 25 years. He is the primary contact with state agencies building strong relationships, lobbying for opportunities that increase quality of service and efficiencies, and insuring compliance with state specific requirements. He works with the client service team, answering technical questions related to the unemployment insurance programs administered by the individual states and oversees the processes associated with wage audits and fraudulent claim inquiries. Mike is a member of the SIDES Operations Committee and currently sits on four Operations Committee subcommittees.

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