Washington Employees – Unemployment standby

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

A.  If you are laid off work temporarily or if 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.

  • Standby means you do not have to look for another job while you collect unemployment benefits, so long as you stay in contact with your regular employer. You must accept any work you can do without breaking isolation or quarantine that is offered by your employer, such as telework. When you file your claim, you can request up to four weeks of standby. If needed, your employer can request up to an additional four weeks of standby (for a total of eight) as long as you will be returning to work full-time when business picks up again.

  • Partial Employment or SharedWork: Under certain circumstances, you may work part-time while collecting unemployment benefits.

Source: https://esd.wa.gov/unemployment/temporary-layoffs

To qualify for unemployment standby or partial employment benefits:

  • You must have worked at least 680 hours in the state of Washington for the first 4 of the last 5 quarters

  • You have experienced a partial reduction in hours or a complete reduction in hours

  • You must be able and available to work

  • You will NOT be required to look for work if your unemployment claim is classified as “standby”

  • You have the ability to return to full time work, once business picks up again

  • You must indicate you anticipate you will return to full time work within the next 4 weeks

To apply:

Call the claims center at 800-318-6022 (Monday – Friday from 8 a.m. – 4 p.m. except holidays) to request standby or make the request online by going here: https://secure.esd.wa.gov/home/ and creating a SecureAccess Washington (SAW) account

  • Once you have created a SAW account, you will create an account as an Individual and asked to verify some personal information.

  • Next, click “Apply for unemployment benefits or manage your current and past claims”

  • Next, Click “submit an application”

  • To complete the application, you will need to following:

  • Your Social Security number.

  • Information about jobs you have had in the last 18 months. Include part-time and temporary jobs. For each employer, you need a:

  • Business name.

  • Mailing address.

  • Phone number.

  • Date you worked.

  • Paper and pen or pencil.

  • If you had a military employer, your DD214 form.

  • If you had a federal civilian employer, your SF50 or SF8.

  • Complete each step of the application, when asked about your current employment status, make sure to select either standby or partial employment

  • Once your submitted application has been received, your employer will be asked to confirm your current employment status. Once this has been confirmed, your unemployment should be approved effective the date your application has been received.

Application Tips:

  • When asked if you plan to return to full time work with your regular employer within four weeks, you must say “yes” or standby benefits may be denied. If asked for a return date, you will need to indicate a date less than 4 weeks from the application date.

  •  As your employer, we can request the standby benefits to extend up to 8 weeks if needed but if you request it, they will deny the claim.

  • If standby benefits are denied for the above reason, you may still qualify for regular unemployment. Regular unemployment is different than in that you may be required to prove that you are looking for work, and you may be subject to a waiting period before unemployment benefits would kick in.

  • Once you enter your personal information, your current employer information may autofill. If the business name is correct, but the address for the employer is inaccurate, please contact Coho Services HR at HR@cohoserv.com or by calling 503-425-1507 so we can advise on how to proceed.

  • Coho Services partners with a third party called PeopleSystems to help manage our unemployment, if you come across a screen that references the company as a primary contact or their address: PO Box 4816 Syracuse, New York 13221, it is ok to proceed.


If you receive an unemployment denial:

It is most likely inaccurate and will be corrected. Please see below for the latest update from the state of Washington regarding this scenario.


What if I am temporarily laid off work because of COVID-19?

If you are temporarily laid off work you should file for unemployment benefits and apply for standby status (full-time or part-time), you may receive an automated notice indicating your request is denied. Do not worry, that notice does not reflect the emergency rules which allow workers to request up to 12 weeks of standby. Employers will be notified of your application. Additionally, employers can request up to 12 weeks of standby for their workers. 

We are in the process of updating our computer system. Once that is complete we will be reviewing all standby denials from March 8 forward to determine if they meet the new standby criteria. If your request is approved, you will receive another letter informing you of the approval. Continue to file weekly claims during this time. Do not call the claims center.



To estimate your potential benefit:

In Washington state, the maximum weekly benefit amount is $790. The minimum is $188. No one who is eligible for benefits will receive less than this, regardless of his or her earnings. The actual amount you are eligible to receive depends on the earnings in your base year. 

You need to know which calendar quarters will make up your base year in order to estimate the amount. Your base year is the first four of the last five completed calendar quarters before the week in which you file your claim. Your base year is the blue-shaded area.


Go here for additional info: https://esd.wa.gov/unemployment/calculate-your-benefit

To estimate how much you might be eligible to receive, add together the gross wages in the two highest quarters during that period, divide by 2, and then multiply by 0.0385 to get your weekly benefit amount. 

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