COVID-19 & Unemployment Benefits

COVID-19 & Unemployment Benefits

graphic of coronavirus

Update: no webinar 4/19. Join us for a live webinar at noon on Monday, April 26, as we answer your questions about COVID-19 and unemployment benefits. You can also view recordings of our past webinars here.

Emergency response to rise in unemployment

Washington State is providing extra support for unemployed workers in response to the COVID-19 outbreak.

The Employment Security Department, with Governor Inslee’s support, is adding staff and has set in place new rules to make it easier to receive unemployment benefits you have earned. More actions to support the unemployed are planned. The ESD has released this helpful checklist to figure out if you are eligible for benefits under the COVID-19 rules.

Find this flier and other resources translated into your language on our Language Resources page.

Drive for Lyft or Uber? Get Unemployment Guide and Resources »

If you have lost your job, the most important step is to apply for benefits online or call 800-318-6022.

If you reside anywhere in Washington and are denied benefits, the Unemployment Law Project may be able to help you. Call us today at 206-441-9178, 509-624-9178, or toll free at 1(888) 441-9178.

If you are in Seattle and having trouble filing a claim because you don’t have a computer, we may be able to refer you to somewhere that can help. Please contact us for more information.

  • If you are laid off because of slow business or a closure, you automatically qualify for unemployment benefits.
  • The state is waiving the normal “waiting week” so that workers can start receiving benefits as soon as possible.
  • If your hours or pay are cut by more than 25%, you may have good cause to quit and obtain unemployment benefits
  • If your employer closes operations temporarily, they may be able to obtain “standby” status and allow you to claim benefits for up to 8 weeks, possibly longer. Standby status is now available for part-time workers as well.
  • If you need to self-isolate or quarantine, you may be eligible to receive unemployment benefits.
  • If you are ill and cannot work, Paid Family and Medical Leave exists to provide you support until you recover.
  • If your employer is forcing you to work when you are sick, that’s a safety hazard. You may have good cause to quit and receive unemployment benefits while you find a new work.
  • If your employer needs to reduce staff levels, they may initiate a work-share program so that people can work part time and obtain some partial unemployment benefits.
  • If you are fired for reasons that are not your fault, you have a strong case to receive unemployment benefits.

Get more information about the state Coronavirus response at

Working Washington wants to hear from you about your experience with filing for unemployment. Please fill out their survey.

Additional Information

Some local distilleries have started making hand sanitizer. Check out Batch 206 Distillery, Chambers Bay Distillery, Chuckanut Bay Distillery, DryFly Distilling, Fremont Mischief, Glass Distillery, Heritage Distilling, Heylo Cannabis, Oola Distillery, Sandstone Distillery, Solar Spirits, Temple Distilling, and Wildwood Spirits Co. for more information.

ULP Webinars on COVID-19 and unemployment benefits:

All recordings of previous COVID-19 webinars can be found here. Below are some recent recordings.