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Employee Support FAQ

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I have not laid off any employees, yet their hours have been significantly cut. What are their options?

The Shared Work program with ESD was designed to help employees in this exact situation. This program has to be initiated by the employer and allows employees to earn wages from the employer and receive a partial benefit payment from unemployment insurance.

This program was also extended by Congress on Friday, March 27th, and will include a waiver of the 7 day waiting period.

For more information click here.

Do employers have to pay tipped employees benefits based on their tipped or non-tipped wages?

That depends on the benefit, Paid Sick and Safe Leave (State and Local) is calculated based on the employee’s base wages, not including tips.

Unemployment Insurance benefits are calculated based on reported tips.

Workers Compensation is also calculated based on reported tips.

Paid Family and Medical Leave is calculated based on base wages.

Is it legally required to pay hazard pay to your employees during a pandemic?

No, there is no requirement for hazard pay. If your employees feel uncertain about the best practices to prevent the spread of COVID-19, we offer ServSafe training, here are two free ServSafe videos related to COVID-19.

Are there any UI options for Corporate Officers?

As the law is written today, corporate officers can not draw UI benefits, unless the company is disolved. There are UI relief packages being worked on, and this question is a part of those conversations. Please check our Coronavirus Resource Guide for updates.

Are there any plans to support owners who don’t have access to any UI benefits?

There are UI relief packages being worked on, and this question is a part of those conversations. Please check our Coronavirus Resource Guide for updates.

I see that ESD has extended standby from 8 weeks up to 12 weeks, how do I ensure that I get the 12 weeks?

You would need to update your claim with ESD, at this time we do not anticipate the governor will extend his order beyond 12 weeks. The most recent order, as of March 23rd 2020, runs through April 6th, 2020.

What are the reporting requirements for Seattle Sick time?

Here is a good document that describes the requirements in the city of Seattle for Sick time. Note that the requirements around reporting/notice have not changed since this became law in 2015. https://www.seattle.gov/Documents/Departments/LaborStandards/Final%20PSST%20Requirements%20Chart.pdf

I’m having a hard time getting through to ESD, what should I do?

ESD is overwhelmed with claims right now. However, there are a couple of options.

The first is to file an appeal to the decision – https://esd.wa.gov/unemployment/benefit-denials-and-appeals

The second is to schedule ESD to call you, which you can do here – https://esd.wa.gov/unemployment/UI-callback

Can employees collect PSST if they are on unemployment?

No, if an employee is laid off they can no longer take PSST because they are no longer employed.

Can an employee who chooses not to work due to fear of the virus still collect unemployment?

Unemployment benefits are not available to employees who “voluntarily quit” employment, unless a reason for “good cause” can be established. Further, in order to be eligible for benefits you must be willing and able to work. ESD has adopted emergency rules, and the exception to this is if the employee receives a “request from a a medical professional, local health official or the Secretary or Health to be isolated or quarantined as a consequence of COVID-19, even if they have not been diagnosed with COVID-19”

If an employee chooses not to work, but has not been asked to quarantine or isolate, that is their choice to voluntarily quit, and as such will no longer be eligible for benefits.

If the employer has applied for Shared work program and listed employees, does the employee also apply?

According to the Employment Security Department, the employee should apply for unemployment and standby status.

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. 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.

https://esd.wa.gov/standby-auto-denial-letters

Unemployment Denied. I have 2 multi-unit members now that have voiced their concerns about their unemployment for their employees being denied. They are very concerned because their servers have no money. What steps do they need to take to resolve this?

They need to follow the steps outlined in their denial letter to appeal the decision. Please note if this is regarding standby, everyone will get a denial record if they are part time hourly. They extended the benefits to part time, but are not able to update their system this quickly. Everyone gets initially denied, then the department will contact you again.