Compensation Guide

Washington State Unemployment Compensation Benefits

Unemployment benefits were enacted to assist workers who become unemployed through no fault of their own. In Washington State, unemployment insurance is funded 100 % by employers, not Washingtonians.

Benefits are not based on financial need. Although weekly benefits do not completely replace your regular earnings, they can help you meet expenses until you find a new job.

Persons believing that they are eligible should apply during the first week they become unemployed. Waiting could mean that you would be ineligible for the weeks for which you did not file an unemployment claim.

Eligibility Requirements

  • You must have worked 680 hours in your base year to meet the initial requirements to qualify for a claim.  A base year is defined under Washington State law as the first four of the five quarters before you applied for unemployment benefits. If you worked at least 680 hours during the last 4 quarters before you became unemployed, you should apply for unemployment compensation.
  • You must be physically able to work, available for work and actively seeking work in an area for which you are trained.
  • Once you apply for unemployment compensation, you must state a reason why you became unemployed. If you quit your job, you are almost always ruled ineligible for voluntarily leaving your job without good cause. However, there are a couple of exceptions such as safety and health reasons, but overcoming a voluntary leaving of a job is still a very high ladder to climb. Quitting makes collecting unemployment extremely difficult to collect, unless you quit as a result of well documented safety and/health reasons.
  • Washington State will get information about your separation from both you and your employer. Both you and your employer have an opportunity to respond to each other’s version of why you became separated from your work. After both sides respond, Washington State will issue a written decision on whether or not you qualify under the Washington State Unemployment Compensation Act.

How to Apply for Unemployment Benefits

If you believe that you are eligible for unemployment compensation as defined above, you should apply for benefits as soon as you become unemployed.

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