COVID-19 has caused economic uncertainty and hardship for millions of Americans. Many people have lost work or been laid off or have missed work due to having to quarantine or isolate. Fortunately, there are many resources available to help those struggling with lost income due to COVID-19.
What resources are available for me if I was a full-time employee and I’ve been laid off?
If you were a full-time employee and were laid off, you’re probably eligible for unemployment benefits. Contact the Employment Security Department to file for unemployment benefits. There may be a delay, but the state is committed to processing claims as quickly as possible.
What if I wasn’t a full time employee?
The new federal CARES Act (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security) has expanded resources available for those workers who have been laid off due to COVID-19. If you are not a full-time employee, worked fewer than 680 hours in your base year of employment (the year you last worked), or have already exhausted your unemployment benefits you may still be eligible for unemployment benefits. Contact the Employment Security Department to file for unemployment benefits or for more information.
What resources are available to me if I needed to take time off due to illness or to care for a family member?
- If you must stay home from work due to your own or a family member’s illness you may use accrued sick leave. You may also use sick leave:
- To care for a child if their school or daycare has closed due to COVID-19.
- If you have been exposed to COVID-19 and need to quarantine.
- If your workplace was closed due to the Stay Home Stay Healthy order, but you were not laid-off.
- If your workplace was closed by a public official in connection with COVID-19.
- You will not be disciplined for lawful use of paid sick leave.
- More information about paid sick leave is available at Washington State Department of Labor & Industries.
- Washington Paid Family and Medical Leave provides benefits for workers who need to take a longer time off of work due to illness or to care for an ill family member. Family and Medical Leave provides a partial wage replacement and requires a one week waiting period to start receiving benefits.
What resources are available to me if I am an immigrant worker, regardless of documentation status, and have lost work due to COVID-19?
- The Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs has answers to frequently asked questions about COVID-19 assistance and the public charge test.
- Testing and treatment for COVID-19 and using eligible unemployment benefits don’t count in the public charge test.
- The Washington Dream Coalition is working to provide financial relief to undocumented workers who have lost work due to COVID-19.
It is important to stay home from work if you are ill and your employer should support you if you need to stay home.
What should I do if I contract COVID-19 from a workplace exposure?
See the Department of Labor & Industries information on workers’ compensation coverage and coronavirus.
What if I am asked by a public health official to quarantine or isolate due to an exposure to COVID-19?
If a medical professional or public health official advises you to isolate or quarantine because of an exposure to COVID-19 and you are not receiving paid sick leave from your employer, you may be eligible to receive unemployment benefits. Eligibility decisions are made on a case-by-case basis.
What resources are available to help with living costs like rent, utilities or food if I’ve lost wages due to COVID-19?
- There is a statewide moratorium (temporary ban) on evictions until August 1, 2020. Contact your landlord to keep them informed of your situation if you are unable to pay rent.
- Rental assistance and other community resources such as utility assistance are available through the Opportunity Council.
- Whatcom County food banks are providing pre-packed food boxes at multiple locations across the county.
- The Department of Social and Health Services is providing disaster cash assistance for those who qualify, regardless of citizenship status. Apply online through WashingtonConnection.org and then call the Customer Service Contact Center at 877-501-2233 to complete the required interview. Or call 877-501-2233 to complete the entire application process over the phone.
The economic uncertainty caused by COVID-19 has been very frustrating and scary for many of us. Community resources are available to help you with basic needs during this stressful and challenging time.