Business & Workers | Washington State Coronavirus Response

Elroy Mariano

Table of Contents Questions about returning to work?Safe Start plans and guidance for reopeningBusiness Response CenterHow to file for unemployment benefitsEconomic Recovery and Resiliency Webinar“The Impact: Road to Recovery” episodes on TVWEssential businessesSupporting affected employers and workersCARES Act and Stimulus packagePaid LeaveTaxes and feesOther business and worker resourcesInsurance information for […]

Questions about returning to work?

There is important information to know about unemployment as our economy beings to re-open. The state Employment Security Department has developed frequently asked questions about returning to work for employers and workers.

Safe Start plans and guidance for reopening

Visit our Safe Start page for more information about the governor’s phased reopening plan. That page also includes industry-specific guidance for safe reopening.

Business Response Center

Business owners and operators who have questions about financial assistance, return to work and other general inquiries can use our General Business and Return to Work Inquiry form to ask our Business Response Center team for answers. First, visit the frequently asked questions for businesses page to see if your question or concern is already addressed. If you’re unable to find an answer, please submit your question through our form.

How to file for unemployment benefits

Economic Recovery and Resiliency Webinar

New webinar: The Joint Information Center’s Economic Resiliency Team holds a weekly webinar with the Association of Washington Business. The audience includes hundreds of Washington businesses and industry associations. In the newest webinar, Employment Security Department Commissioner Suzi LeVine, Department of Commerce Assistant Director Chris Green and Department of Labor and Industries Director Joel Sacks discuss the state’s latest efforts to help employers and workers. All the episodes are archived online.

“The Impact: Road to Recovery” episodes on TVW

TVW’s series, “The Impact: Road to Recovery,” discusses how businesses and workers can navigate their way through the COVID-19 pandemic. All the shows are archived on TVW. Recent episodes include:

Essential businesses

Businesses that can operate using telework should continue to do so. For businesses where individuals cannot work from home, the Governor’s Office has provided guidance on what businesses are essential, building on the federal government’s and California’s definition of “essential critical infrastructure workers.”

  • To clarify status, or request inclusion on the list, please fill out this form.
  • If you want to report suspected violations of the governor’s orders regarding essential business functions, evictions, and social distancing, please fill out this form.

Supporting affected employers and workers

State agencies have been working with federal agencies, employers and workers to support businesses and workers affected by COVID-19.

CARES Act and Stimulus package

Paid Leave

  • Information from the U.S. Department of Labor regarding paid Leave under the federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act.
  • The Employment Security Department has information for workers and employers impacted by COVID-19.
  • The Washington state Paid Family and Medical Leave insurance program is funded by employers and employees. This program will allow workers to take up to 12 weeks, as needed, when they welcome a new child into their family, are struck by a serious illness or injury, need to take care of an ill or ailing relative and for certain military-connected events.

Taxes and fees

  • The state Department of Revenue has information on relief for taxpayers, including extensions for filing and paying tax returns.
  • The IRS posted filing and payment deadline Q&As to address the federal filing and payment extension to July 15 and the additional extension to Oct. 15, first quarter estimated tax payments, IRAs and HSAs.
  • IRS information on employee retention tax credit to encourage for eligible employers to keep employees on their payroll.
  • IRS frequently asked questions page on small business tax credits that reimburse them, dollar-for-dollar, for the cost of providing paid sick and family leave wages to their employees for leave related to COVID-19.
  • The Washington Secretary of State suspended delinquency fees for businesses that have not been able to file their annual report before the deadline of March 31 and April 30. It also suspended the late fee for charitable organizations, charitable trusts, and fundraisers that may have missed their filing deadline.

Other business and worker resources

  • Many companies, foundations and business organizations are offering small business funding opportunities related to COVID-19. Commerce is working to provide a list of all these resources in each county in the state.
  • The Department of Commerce is partnering with organizations that serve disproportionately or historically disadvantaged communities across the state to provide business resiliency assistance. These are community organizations that work with business owners that face language or cultural barriers or are from historically disadvantaged communities to provide translated documents, business coaching, and application assistance.
  • The Department of Commerce is working with the federal Small Business Administration to secure loan assistance and has information for businesses experiencing trade impacts.
  • The Department of Labor & Industries oversees the state’s paid sick leave law, the workers’ compensation program and workplace safety issues. The agency has FAQs on these and other topics related to coronavirus.
  • To further support small businesses and nonprofits impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, Mayor Jenny Durkan signed an Emergency Order that temporarily halts evictions of small business and nonprofit tenants in the City of Seattle.
  • Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler urges all insurers doing business in Washington to immediately extend automobile insurance coverage for personal delivery drivers to aid people temporarily assigned this duty during the coronavirus pandemic and state of emergency. 
  • WorkSource is a statewide partnership of state, local and nonprofit agencies that provides an array of employment and training services to job seekers and employers in Washington.
  • StartUp Washington serves as a clearinghouse for all the information and resources entrepreneurs, start-ups and small businesses need to achieve success, including funding sources, training and technical assistance, mentorship, education and information.  
  • The Liquor and Cannabis Board promotes public safety and trust through fair administration and enforcement of liquor, cannabis, tobacco, and vapor laws.  
  • The Washington State Department of Agriculture provides services to the agriculture community, promotes Washington agricultural products, and ensures regulations are observed. The agency works extensively with farmers and ranchers, but their responsibilities – from ensuring food safety and food access to environmental protection – touch the lives of millions of people locally, nationally, and abroad.  
  • Governor’s Office of Regulatory Innovation & Assistance Small Business Liaison Team links entrepreneurs and small businesses to Washington state resources.  
  • Business and charity filings at the Secretary of State’s office during the Stay at Home order.
  • The Washington State Human Rights Commission has issued guidance on COVID-19 and compliance with non-discrimination laws. If you have been discriminated against based on a protected class, please file a complaint with the WSHRC. 
  • SecureAccess Washington (SAW) is the state of Washington’s central login that lets you access online services for multiple state agencies. The state Employment Security Department has created frequently asked questions to help people use SAW.

Insurance information for businesses

The Office of the Insurance Commissioner has information about insurance coverage businesses need to protect themselves from potential losses.

Guidance from OIC for businesses about keeping employees on their health insurance plans.

For information employers can share with employees about the health insurance options available through Washington Healthplanfinder (includes free and low cost options for those who will be losing or have recently lost their employer sponsored coverage), please visit the Washington Health Benefit Exchange Coronavirus FAQ Page.

Small businesses and non-profits

SCORE is a nonprofit association dedicated to educating entrepreneurs and helping small businesses start, grow, and succeed nationwide. SCORE is a resource partner with the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), and has been mentoring small business owners for more than forty years. SCORE offers small business entrepreneurs confidential business counseling services at no charge. SCORE provides resources, templates and tools to assist entrepreneurs in developing tools and plans they need to navigate their way to small business success.

The Small Business Administration (SBA) will provide disaster assistance loans for small businesses impacted by COVID-19.

The Washington Small Business Development Center COVID-19 related information and resources.

Guidance for state agencies and local governments

Washington State Emergency Management Division has activated the Public Assistance (PA) Program to initiate the recovery process for the COVID–19 Pandemic Outbreak. This is specifically for state and local governments, tribal governments and to certain non-profits seeking federal assistance in response to COVID-19. Please visit Questions can be submitted to: [email protected] 

Information from the Office of Financial Management helping state organizations prepare for and respond to issues and questions related to COVID-19.

Department of Enterprise Services manages many business and operational services that state agencies and municipal governments need to deliver public services. Their centralized services include facilities and lease management, accounting, human resources, risk management, contracting and printing. 

Planning, preparing and responding to COVID-19




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