WA Issues Employment Security Emergency Rules

March 26, 2020

Washington’s Emergency Rules

In response to the overwhelming need for unemployment benefits as a result of the current COVID-19 pandemic, Washington has enacted emergency rules to allow for faster access to benefits for affected workers. The emergency rules provide benefits for workers who otherwise would not have qualified. Examples include employees who are mildly ill with COVID-19 or employees who are quarantined after exposure to COVID-19 even though their employer remains open.

ESD has waived the one-week waiting period for individuals to receive benefits and the governor is purportedly considering options to provide relief to employers whose experience rating will be negatively affected as a result of employees applying for benefits. ESD has just announced that all work search requirements for individuals laid off as a result of the governor’s stay home order issued on March 23rd are optional.

The emergency rules also expand the standby provisions and allow for employees (including part-time employees) to be temporarily laid off and placed on standby for up to 12 weeks. Employees placed on standby may receive unemployment benefits without the requirement to search for work. More information about the emergency ESD rules may be found here.

Idaho rules unchanged, but still provide some support

Idaho has not issued emergency rules as of the date of this publication, however, employees affected by COVID-19 may still be eligible for benefits through the Idaho Department of Labor. Idaho employers may temporarily lay off employees who may be designated as “job attached” if the employer expects to rehire the employee within 16 weeks. In such cases, the employee is not required to seek other employment to be eligible for benefits.

To date, Idaho has not waived the one week waiting period for employees to obtain benefits, nor has it waived the impact to employers’ unemployment taxes as a result of increased filings for benefits.

The Idaho Department of Labor has issued COVID-19 frequently asked questions as a resource for employers.

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