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Washington Unemployment Eligibility

In order to collect unemployment benefits in Washington, you must meet the following requirements:

Non-Monetary Eligibility

You must be:

  1. Unemployed for reasons that are not your fault. For example, you were laid off, are still working, but your hours were cut back, were fired for a reason other than misconduct or gross misconduct, quit for a good-cause reason.
  2. Able to and available for work.
  3. Actively seeking suitable work.

You need to give unemployment department the reason you became unemployed. The state will then make a decision about your eligibility and will get information about your separation from both you and your employer. Both you and your employer have a chance to respond to each others version of the separation. Finally, they will then issue a written decision based on the information gathered.

Monetary Eligibility

  1. You must be employed for at least 680 hours in your base year in covered employment (Your job is covered by unemployment insurance if your employer is required by law to report your work to labor department, another state or the federal government) to meet the initial requirements to qualify for a claim.
  2. You must also have sufficient wages in Washington so as to file your unemployment claim against the state of Washington.

Eligibility Questions

Can I get benefits if I’m fired?

It depends. If you were fired through no fault of your own, such as not having the skills to do the job, you may be eligible for unemployment benefits. If it is decided, you were fired or suspended for misconduct or gross misconduct; you will not qualify for unemployment benefits.

Misconduct examples

Deliberate or reckless disregard for your employer or a fellow employee, such as:

  • Insubordination
  • Repeated inexcusable tardiness following warnings
  • Dishonesty related to employment
  • Repeated and inexcusable absences
  • Violating the law or deliberate acts that provoke violence or illegal actions, or violating a collective bargaining agreement
  • Violating a company rule

Deliberately violating or disregarding standards of behavior that your employer has a right to expect.

Carelessness or negligence that causes, or will likely cause, serious bodily harm to your employer or fellow employees.

Carelessness or negligence of such a degree or recurrence that it shows an intentional or substantial disregard for your employer.

Gross misconduct examples

  • A criminal act in connection with your work for which you have been convicted in a criminal court or have admitted committing
  • Conduct connected with your work that demonstrates a flagrant and wanton disregard for your employer or a fellow employee

If it is determined that you were fired or suspended for misconduct or gross misconduct related to your work, your benefits will be denied for at least 10 weeks and until you earn at least 10 times your weekly benefit amount in covered employment. Additionally, if your benefits are denied based on gross misconduct, your wages will be removed from your unemployment-insurance records, which may cause you to be disqualified for jobless benefits.

Can I get benefits if I quit?

It depends. Your state will decide if you are eligible for unemployment benefits based on the facts about your job loss. You may qualify for unemployment benefits if it is decided you quit for a good-cause reason.

  1. You took another job
  2. You became sick or disabled, or a member of your family became sick, disabled or died, and it was necessary for you to quit work
  3. You moved to be with your spouse or domestic partner whose job is outside your labor market area
  4. You needed to protect yourself or immediate family members from domestic violence or stalking
  5. Your employer reduced your usual pay or hours of work by 25 percent or more
  6. Your employer changed the location of your job so your commute is longer or harder
  7. You told your employer about a safety problem at work, and your employer did not fix the problem quickly
  8. You told your employer about an illegal activity at work, and your employer did not stop the activity quickly
  9. Your employer changed your usual work, and the work now goes against your religious or moral beliefs
  10. You entered approved apprenticeship training
  11. You started approved training under the Trade Act
  12. You worked full-time and part-time jobs at the same time, and you quit the part-time job – then were laid off later from the full-time job.

You will be asked more questions to see if you are eligible for one of these reasons. If it is determined you are not eligible, your benefits will be denied for at least seven weeks and until you earn at least seven times your weekly benefit amount in covered employment.

Can I collect benefits if I am laid off?

Generally, in Washington you have to lose your job through no fault of your own in order to collect unemployment. When you get laid-off, it is not your fault.

In almost all cases, this means that if you get laid-off, you are entitled to receive unemployment benefits.

If you get laid-off from your job, you must directly apply for unemployment benefits.

Getting laid-off doesn’t mean that you were fired or you did something wrong. It only means that the company did not have adequate work for you to do and could no longer afford to pay you for the job.

More Questions?? —-> Read Eligibility Q & A Section

Want to know about how much you will receive?? —–>Calculate your benefits here

  1. We had to move out of the area due to the cost of living and I was being given no option to work remotely so I had to quit. Will this qualify me?

    • Hi, Katie – it depends on the specifics of your situation. Ultimately the Washington Employment Security Department will decide if you are eligible for unemployment benefits based on the facts about your job loss. You may qualify for unemployment benefits if they decide you quit your job for a good-cause reason. Examples of good-cause reasons are outlined here: There’s nothing explicitly stated about moving because of the cost of living, but you may want to speak with someone in the Department to learn more about whether your situation qualifies.

  2. I was “fired” told to “pack my shit and leave” after a disagreement with my employer over taking time off for a doctors appointment. I never signed anything and was never given a reason as to why I was “fired” Will I get denied for benefits?

    • Was recently fired after I fell asleep for 10 minutes in my work vehicle on an assigned posting, I woke up and supposedly didn’t know where I was or what I was doing in my work vehicle. I was recently diagnosed with sleep apnea and high blood pressure, and to add to it, my work vehicle had no working A/C in it, the day for he incident was the 19th of august and it was in the upper 80’s – low 90’s in outside temperature with high 90’s inside my work vehicle. I’m certain that I had suffered from some type of heat exhaustion mixed with an apnea episode. My employers said the client walked around my vehicle video recording me and then when I woke up he had a conversation with me while recording in his pocket. I have absolutely no recollection of talking to anyone that day or even falling asleep. Am I possibly able to file unemployment due to medical issues that caused me being fired?

      • Hi, Joe –this one sounds complicated. It’s likely that your employer gave the reason for your firing as misconduct, specifically the violation of a company policy. If you file for unemployment benefits, the state of Washington will check with your employer on the details of your separation. If you feel you have a medical issue that is important here, the first thing you should do is undergo complete testing with your physician. At that point, if your physician provides documentation of a substantiated medical issue, it may be wise to connect with a qualified unemployment attorney to understand the strength of your unemployment claim. If you remain too sick to work, you may want to pursue a disability claim instead of unemployment.

    • This can be a tricky situation. It looks like the job separation was done in a haste and it was not your fault. Please consider filing and make sure to keep supporting docs handy in case of a dispute.

  3. Have an up and coming appeal but not sure if it’s a waste of time or worth it, I was fired for inexcusable absences, but I believe this was no fault of my own. I was working 12hours days commonly or 6days a week with an average of 57hour a week and doing so since covid began, I did receive disciplinary action for 3 incidents before the termination, and I attempted to correct the behavior by only sleeping and working, setting multiple alarms (6 of them) all different tunes…..but in the end as hard as I tried my body did not wake up to any of them, my hours never returned to normal and I never intentionally was late, I loved working for my employer and never called in sick, never missed a day of work, worked extra days and overtime more often then not, this was all approved OT for the needs of the company my proof of such is I was never disciplined for stealing company time which were all sign an agreement on. Despite being a dedicated hard worker their main office made the final call on my employment

  4. I was laid off from my job due to COVID 19, I first got a letter saying I was denied benefits,but then the next day was sent a new letter saying they received new information and that I was not approved to receive unemployment and also was approved for standby status I was then paid for a partial week since my first week before my lay off I worked 2 days. The following week and the next three weeks after that I was marked as disqualified even though I said I was able/available for work and did not refuse any work and filled everything out exactly as I was supposed to. Now here’s where it gets messed up, I should have been paid benefits but for some reason they continue to disqualify me each week, BUT they have not once sent me any information as to why they did not pay me and under my decision tab there is no letter or reason for the disqualification. I have sent several messages asking why I was not paid benefits and all i got was a response telling me to go to the decision tab and appeal the disqualification. However, I cannot appeal anything because there is no denial or disqualification letter saying why. Is this just an error on their half that I have to wait to get fixed? will it be fixed? I have sent now 3 other messages from april 8th, 9th, 13th, and the 22nd with ZERO response from anyone at unemployment. I do not know how to get a response and fight the disqualification if I have not been sent a letter or reason why they did that. Is this just an error where maybe the system did not get updated after my re-decision was made approving me for benefits? Has anyone else in washington dealt with this?

  5. Hello,
    I recently became disqualified for benefits a few months ago because of my school schedule so they said that I wouldn’t be able to find a job and go to school with my school hours. But now my classes are moved completely online and I uploaded a document showing there are no longer classes in person until this fall but when I tried filing a claim again it still disqualified me for the school attendance even though literally no schools are open right now.

  6. Sam i have a question about whether i am eligible for UE benefits. At my last job I worked Monday thru Thursday. My final week there, I called in sick on Wednesday. That was all good. On my way to work Thursday I was arrested for not paying an old court fine. So I missed work Thursday (then Friday but I don’t work Fridays) I was released Monday before work, and I arrived, but was told to go home and we would speak the next day. I was told to come in and was fired. They tried to get me to sign a piece of paper saying (this is your first and last warning la Dee da you didn’t show up) I refused to sign it because I was already being let go and I was never warned before then. I’m wondering if I can still claim. I wasn’t able to notify my employer from jail because I didn’t know their number off the top of my head. All in all, I only missed one day that I didn’t call and get the OK for, and I was arrested for not paying a fine because I was worried about holding money due to the pandemic going on right now. I haven’t been able to tell my side of the story at all to the UE office, only that I was fired for an absence without prior warning. Do you think I will be awarded, or not, and if not do you think I would get it if I appealed and told my side of the story? Thanks for your time and consideration my friend.

    • Kiernan,

      Thank you for the note. If you think you were laid off due to involuntary reasons, please consider applying. If they deny, you can always appeal and present your side of the story.

  7. In WA state do I have to report if I receive a bonus if I am receiving unemployment benefits? Secondly, do I have to report if I receive accrued vacation pay if I am receiving unemployment benefits. I am currently laid off and on standby. I appreciate any clarification.Thank you.

  8. Hello,
    I’ve been at my work for a year and a half and was laid off for 4 days due due to a verbal dispute. After the 4th day they fired me and tried to back date the day they let me go, to the day they actually laid me off. The argument was about another worker performing a job incorrectly that I was helping with. In the dismissal letter they gave me, they stated I was “abusive” to said employee, even though that wasn’t the case. Will I still qualify for benefits in WA state?

    • Aurelia,

      This is a tricky situation. If you can prove your stance (in case your employer disputes the application), you should be able to claim weekly benefits.

      • Thank you for responding.
        One more question, if you don’t mind? If my employer does not respond to my claim at all (they just ignore it) will unemployment go ahead and approve it?
        Thank you for your time and happy holidays.

        • Aurelia,

          Your employer is obligated to respond in a certain number of days and they maybe give a grace time too. You should be able to find this info on the department’s website.

  9. I work in Washington as a firefighter for the season. But I’m not a resident of Washington, would I still revive unemployment. I’ve worked more than 660 hours and for 6 months.

  10. If you are receiving unemployment payments but are out of the country for 2 weeks you would not be available to work those 2 weeks and would not receive payments for those 2 weeks. What happens after you come back to Washington state after 2 weeks? Can you just file your weekly claim and start receiving payments again? Do your payments end completely? Do you have to file another case?

    • My position has been eliminated but I have an option to take another position with the same pay but a drop in rank. Should I decline the transfer and get laid off will I lose eligibility?

      • Adam,

        If you resign voluntarily, it might go against you when you claim UI benefits. Before making a decision, please call the Unemployment Office for clarification.

    • Mildred,

      As much as I am aware, a claimant cannot claim weekly payments retrospectively. You can continue claiming weekly on the basis of available weeks in your account.

      • Thanks for the reply. I found this in the “Unemployed Worker Handbook” from Washington state. “If you leave the country for any reason while claiming benefits, contact us before you leave. You can stop submitting weekly benefits while you are out of the country and re-open your claim once you return.”

  11. I was arrested at work and charged with theft saying I was stealing from my employer. Was never actually fired, and believe it was just assumed. When released from jail I had an email asking where I wanted my last check sent. Still was never told I was fired or let go. I have filed unemployment but all still waiting for a response. Was I legally let go? Do I have any courses of action? Thanks!

    • Walter,

      UI benefits are only offered to claimants who lose employment due to involuntary reasons. I am not sure if you can claim. Please call the Claims Center for help.

  12. I retired from federal service 12/11. I was brought back in the capacity of a re-hired annuitant NTE one year at a time. I have served 2 years and was just notified my employment will terminate 25 November 2017. I am losing my job through no fault of my own.

    I have spoken with some former employees who came in under the same program and they received unemployment benefits after their term was up.

    I intend to actively pursue employment after 25 November, but want to know if I will be eligible receive unemployment benefits in the interim?
    The program allows employment up to 5 years, but PSNS has decided not to participate further, thereby leaving me without a job.

    I do receive a retirement check from the Fed, but have no intention of retiring due to family obligations.

    Thank you

    • John,

      From the details provided by you, it looks like you should be able to claim UI until you find employment. Please consider applying.

  13. I have been Disabled since a near fatal dump truck accident on 6-10-1998 that happened in Kansas before I moved to Washington to get married. I have been denied SSI 6 times now. I have not been able to work in the thirteen years I have been in Washington. Though I have tried. I am trying to start up a Website and Boutique, but my health has taken a turn for the worse. I have been diagnosed with Dysautonomia and I am really not able to work and I am receiving 123 hours of In Home Care.

    The only income we have is my husband’s SSI Benefits. Is there any program that could help us with Financial Help?

    • Hello Karen,

      Our information is limited to Unemployment Insurance benefits only. I suggest that you explore online or contact the local Labor Office to inquire about benefits that match your requirements.

  14. I currently work of Navy Civil Service. My position was abolished at my old position as a management analyst and I was management-directed to the Regional Housing Office. I had zero experience in navy housing. My housing supervisor did not want me in the office because I had no experience. I have been under duress of learning the new position for 3 years. My supervisor has awarded negative performance appraisals during each year. My supervisor is attempting to have me terminated or demoted from a GS-11. I have had no formal training in housing and was made to learn about housing from what source I could find. I have gone to EEO for an ADR but my supervisor was told not to go back in 2015. My supervisor is trying to have me removed from my position. My work accuracy has suffered from the immensely over the 3 year period. If I were to resign would I be able to file a claim? I am diligently searching for other employment within the civil service. The supervisor is trying to instigate a confrontation with me and I will resign before I let that happen.

    • Well, this is a tricky situation. Since you’re a part of the Navy, the rules and proceedings are slightly different.

      Please call the Unemployment Office in your state for further details.

    • Unemployment Insurance benefits are only extended to those who lose their job due to involuntary reasons.

      Please call the Unemployment Office to ascertain your eligibility.

  15. My company is downsizing. They want to buy senior employees out. If I had been working here for 40 years and never have filed for unemployment, if I take the buyout and can’t find another job. Would I be able to collect unemployment if I needed it?

    Thank you Bill

    • I am guessing you should be able to since you’re being laid off with a severance pay.

      Please call the Unemployment Office in your state to clarify and act accordingly.

  16. My employer wants to change my work schedule and put me on a day that I’m not available (I am part time). My boss knew I wasn’t available this day, that I have no childcare available that day, but she still put me on the schedule. Would I be able to qualify for Unemployment if I quit as a result?? I cannot leave a toddler home alone…..

    • If you quit voluntarily, you will not qualify.

      Please call the Unemployment Office for further clarification and decide accordingly.

    • He will not be eligible since unemployment insurance is only extended to those who become unemployed due to involuntary reasons.

  17. Can I give an employee mutually agreed upon leave of absence for 3 she eligible for unemployed

    • Unemployment Insurance is only offered to those who’re completely laid off from their job.

      Please call the Unemployment Office for further details.

  18. I stopped working in the Seattle area because I sold my house and moved to Randle wash in April. I have not been able to find work yet. am I eligible for benefits

    • You will not be eligible since unemployment insurance is only extended to those who become unemployed due to involuntary reasons.

  19. I have been asked to step down from a management position to a position in which I will not be able to meet the physical demands and physical requirements of the job. If I quit will I be eligible for unemployment benefits?

    • Unemployment Insurance is only extended to those who become unemployed due to involuntary reasons.

      Please call the Unemployment Office for further details.

  20. Am I eligible for unemployment benefits after my l&i claim for occupational disease ends?
    Was fired by employer 3 months ago. My doctor ordered modified duty restrictions, HR rep. Told me they did not and would not have any work for me under my doctor ordered restrictions. To date my modified duty restrictions remain unchanged. I continued to check in with HR after my next 2 doctor visits at which point HR told me I did not need to continue checking in unless my restrictions changed. Approximately 3 weeks later my employer fired me for failing to report to work.

    • You will not be eligible since unemployment insurance is only extended to those who become unemployed due to involuntary reasons. Unfortunately, the system does not consider personal reasons.

      Please call the Unemployment Office in your state for further details.

  21. I am in sales, if I quit because I don’t like the company I work for, can I claim benefits or do I have to be fired to get them?

    • You will not be eligible since unemployment insurance is only extended to those who become unemployed due to involuntary reasons.

  22. My child assistance may end at the end of the month. without this, I cannot afford to keep my child in daycare. I am trying to be proactive and make other arrangements, but at this point I have no options. she is 3.5 years old and wont start school until next year. I may have to quit work after 10years with my employer in order to not only arrange care but move days, hours and availability around so I can accommodate both work and childcare. I am a single father, one income, child’s mother is not involved or providing any child support.

    • Unfortunately, the system does not consider personal issues. You will not be eligible to draw UI benefits.

      Please call the Unemployment Office in your state for further details.

  23. I worked two weeks at a job that we both agreed it was not the position for me. Then I got another job from which I was laid off just 40 hours short of the 680 hours. Can I count the 85 hours I worked at the first job before the job I was laid off from so my total number of hours will be greater than 680?

    Thank you for your answer.


    • The hours counted should be an aggregate of both the jobs.

      Please call the Unemployment Office to confirm before applying.

  24. I am currently on unpaid medical leave due to the flu, and am not allowed to work because I work with food. My employer does not offer paid sick leave. Can I claim unemployment for time missed from work due to illness?

      • I really don’t think you read my question at all, because I am not allowed to work due to an illness that I definitely do not have “voluntarily.” Also, you clearly do not live in my state based on your comments’ time stamp. Are you just here to confuse people?

        • Hello,

          Unemployment Insurance in any state is provided on the basis of the claimant’s ability to be available for work. With regard to your question on time stamp, we support all the states in the U.S and therefore, reply to questions during various times in a day.

          Please call the Unemployment Office in your state for further guidance in this regard.

  25. I applied for benefits and have fled two weekly claims I faxed back the separation from work packet they sent me and still haven’t received a check. there still trying to determine eligibility but I was under the impression that while there determining that I would receive checks? any advice??

    • The cheques would start only after the determination is confirmed.

      Please call the Claims Center on the phone numbers provided for an update on status.

  26. I was fired for extending a vacation by three days while I was on it. I gave notice and they approved it through text message. The day before I was coming back to work, I was told I’d had too many absences and I placed undue strain on the office. I was also told they would not dispute my unemployment benefits. I’d received no warnings prior to being fired. What’s the likelihood I’ll be denied benefits by Washington state? I put my application for benefits in immediately and have complied with the paperwork thus far.

    • Well, you’re likely to be denied since benefits are only given to those who lose their job due to involuntary reasons.

    • Voluntary reasons are not considered. You may not be eligible.

      Please inquire further with the Unemployment Office in your state.

  27. I was recently denied benefits and in the result it states “this denial will continue for at least seven weeks and until you go back to work and earn seven times your weekly benefit amount in work that is covered by unemployment insurance.” I did not receive any checks while they were in the process of making the decision, so I have nothing to pay back.
    Could you clarify this statement for me – particularly this portion – “and until you go back to work and earn seven times your weekly benefit amount in work that is covered by unemployment insurance.” Does this mean seven times your weekly amount earned per week at your new job?

    • It simply means that income from your previously earned job is not sufficient to make you eligible.

      As far as I am aware, it means 7 times the WBA in a month. To confirm this, please call the claims center of the Unemployment Office in your state.

  28. I recently received unemployment benifts in Wa state from a job I worked at for almost 6 years, I used the full six months. I was hired and worked for about a month and a half at a job recently and I did reicve pay from the previous employer in april of 2014 and totaling over 5000.00 for both would I qualify for unemployment now, The last the last unemployment check I recived for was in September.

  29. I was notified that my position was discontinued at an institution of higher education. The rules of the institution state that I must be paid for six months after that date. I was put on home assignment and given a project to complete. Do I qualify for benefits during those six months?

    • Scheduled time off and jobs such in the education field does not qualify.

      Please call the claims center/customer service of the labor dept. in your state for further information and to check if you’re eligible.

  30. I talked to my employer after being fired for working off the clock if they would dispute it the HR said she will not dispute the claim. Will I automatically get unemployment since it is the company who pays for the insurance and not unemployment itself?

    • Please apply for Unemployment Insurance online or over the phone on the relevant web portal. It is not automatic.

      You need to make weekly claims for it.

  31. I was given workload to complete without the proper training or certifications and it was not in my job description. I resigned after no action was made by my boss to compensate me for this extra work that caused stress/anxiety. Would that reason be “good cause” enough for unemployment?

  32. My husband is in the army at jblm and my required work hours exceeded past daycare employer cant give me a schedule to consider with daycare. So I do not have anyone to watch my child past daycare hours. If I quit my job can I collect in employment? The army doesn’t accommodate my schedule either… nor should they. Its the army.

  33. My job had changed locations 3 times. We recently just changed to a further location from my home and child’s daycare. It takes my and hour to get to work now and i losing hours having to get off earlier to make it to my child’s daycare before closing. My boss is currently allowing to leave at 4 instead of my original time at 4:30 but only for so long. Im concerned it will change soon. Getting off at 4:30 i would not make it to my child’s care on time. I’ve tried to work with the new location for a month now but it’s causing a strain. Would i be considered for unemployment?

  34. I quit my job November due to needing to be with my 92 year old mother. I was denied unemployment. But since then I have not been able to get a job due to problems I am having with my feet.I am now going to the Puget Sound Neurology to determined way I can not walk very good. Could I qualify for unemployment

    • Well, UI benefits are only extended to those who are able to work. In your case,looks like you are not.

      If you’re actively looking forward to resuming your career again,please consider applying.

  35. I am coming off Army National Guard orders at the end of the month. I have been on full time orders for 2 1/2 years. If I accept temp work as a substitute teacher immediatly after my orders end will I lose the unemployment benefits that I earned while being in the National Guard?

    • Unemployment benefits are only provided to those who do not have a job in hand.

      Please check with labor dept on the seizure.

  36. In July 2013 I accepted a temp-to-perm position working 40 hours per week. The woman I report to tried converting me to permanent during the first week of August, only to be told they have initiated a hiring freeze. (It is a biotech company; thus they receive money from investors, and they were attempting to obtain new financing.) On October 7, I was informed that, due to lack of funding, my hours were being reduced from 40 to 24. A friend of mine told me I may qualify for unemployment due to the reduction of hours. Any advice?

  37. I was yelled at by a co-worker in front of other co-workers and patients in the ICU, due to the stress this caused I had to cut my hours back and go to Per Diem status. Do I qualify for unemployment benefits?

  38. I have been diagnosed with carpel tunnel was denied by private L&I for not reporting within 3 days. It is very painful to do my job. can I quit and receive unemployment?

    • I live in WA State and quit my job due to having Radial Tunnel Syndrome, which has affected the nerves in my hands, arms and up my neck. I could no longer sit for 9 hours a day entering data into a computer. Can anyone tell me if I should be able to collect unemployment until I find a more suitable position to work?
      Thank you for any assistance with this question.

  39. I’m currently having a problem with my employer allowing me to talk to my children, which one happens to be disabled. I am trying to work and take care of them at the same time; however, my job will only allow my breaks or lunches to talk to my kids. I’m currently on unpaid leave right now for using a communication tool that was installed on my computer to speak with my kids. It’s a public software program and it’s no different than using the phone at my desk or email account provided by my job. I’ve also got two family members dying of cancer and another about ready to have a baby. Remaining available for my family to contact me is a must. Could I quit for good-cause?

    • You need to check company policies. Is there any alternative with regard to contact? If you quit, you will have to present your side of the story as best you can. Try to work things out with the employer. No one can “guess” the answer you ask. Perhaps some research would give you an idea how you might fare. These types of situations are determined on a case by case basis and each state can be a bit different.

  40. I refused to cook spoiled food at my work and my boss told me not to work today and said he will call me when I can work again. I feel that I am being pushed out. I have communication with the health inspector as I filed a report that day. How eligible am I for unemployment benefits?

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