Pandemic related furlough Frequently Asked Questions

Below are details from State Human Relations about the state employee furloughs announced on June 17.

We have added in WSDOT-specific details where possible and will continue to update these FAQs as more details become available. If you have any unanswered questions, email

We know there are lots of questions and we appreciate your patience during this process. 

Date of last update: 3 p.m., July 6 (Updated intro, 5, 19, 25, 26, 27, 28, 35, 36,37, 41, 42, 47,48, 49, 50)


New information for ID fraud victims and locked accounts:

Locked ESD Accounts

The process for unlocking accounts due to fraud is still underway. For employees who have contacted us, we have compiled a statewide spreadsheet that we will be providing ESD this week.  July 9th is the deadline for ESD to notify our employees their account is unlocked and ready for them to apply for benefits and submit their first weekly claim. Once your account is unfrozen you do want to plan to file that week (July 9 or 10).

Our direction from ESD is they are unable to take phone calls at this time in order to devote all resources to clearing the locked accounts. If your name has been given to HR for the agency list, they have told us there are no additional steps to take until the July 9 notification.

This process will not affect any state employees’ payments, nor will employees be subject to a “waiting week,” even if they apply for benefits on July 9. More importantly, you are not responsible for repaying any money to ESD as a result of the fraudulent claim. If you receive a system-generated letter saying that you need to repay benefits please disregard that message.

Payments will be retroactive

If your first furlough day is during the week of June 28 to July 4, but you can’t apply for benefits because your account is locked, enter a start date of June 28 for your claim no matter when you successfully submit your application. After you apply, you’ll immediately be able to submit your first weekly claim(s) for whatever weeks have passed.

Important: If you experienced fraud on your ESD account you MUST use your state-assigned work email address to create your SecureAccess Washington (SAW) account, the first step in filing for SharedWork unemployment. If you have questions, you should contact the SAW help desk BEFORE creating the account.


All of this information and more can be found at our WSDOT SharedWork Presentation (Interactive Guide).  

General Questions: 

  1. Does the furlough apply to basically all WSDOT employees?
    Yes, the furloughs apply to all WSDOT employees with few exceptions. Additional information on exemption criteria will be provided to your management team.
  2. Where can I find more information? 
    General questions and answers, including questions about retirement, leave, and other benefits, are being updated on following websites:
  3. Will furlough days be pre-determined (certain dates or days of the week), or can the employer or employee choose a certain day in the week? 
    WSDOT is leaving this to employee and supervisor discretion so long as it results in the employee taking at least 8 hours of furlough in one week. Selection of which day an employee takes their furlough should be decided by balancing business and operational needs and the needs and interests of the impacted employee, similar to the way agencies currently make decisions about pre-approved leave use. Agencies are strongly recommended to work with employees whenever possible before deciding their furlough days, but an employee must have their work hours for the week reduced between 10-50%.
  4. Do all affected employees have to be furloughed at the same time, or can they be spread over different days? 
    Affected employees do not need to be furloughed on the same day. They can be spread out to accommodate operational needs and the interests of affected employees so long as eight hours of furlough are taken during that week. 
  5. Will the notification requirements for temporary lay-off or reduction in hours apply to this statewide effort (for both rep and non-rep)? 
    Yes. WSDOT employees were notified via email in accordance with the CBA or civil service rules for represented and non-represented employees.  
  6. Does State HR intend to bargain with the Union(s) on this? What might those agreements contain (i.e. timeline shortening for notices, furlough by position, et cetera)?
    Yes. OFM Labor Relations staff contacted all affected unions on June 17, and some labor organizations negotiations are already occurring. Notice will go to all affected unions and they will have the opportunity to bargain the impacts. At this point we cannot speculate on the content of the agreements, but the goal is to reach agreement as soon as possible to allow agencies to complete their applications for the SharedWork program (which requires union agreement). ESD has agreed to accept a signed MOU as the union signature on the SharedWork application. OFM will provide these to ESD and the agencies. 
  7. How do I know which of my agency’s positions is a “relief” position? 
    Typically, only positions in work units requiring 24/7 coverage, like positions in prisons and hospitals – and some Washington State Ferries crews – are considered relief positions. In essence, a relief position is a position for which a replacement worker (the relief) must be brought in as coverage if the incumbent employee calls in sick. It cannot be left vacant due to statutory or regulatory staffing requirements.
  8. Are temporary employees subject to furloughs? 
    No, temporary or non-permanent employees are not subject to the furlough. If you have questions about your employment status, please contact your local HR Consultant.   
  9. Should permanent part-time employees be furloughed? 
    Yes, their furloughs should be proportional, based on the amount of time they are normally scheduled to work. For example, if they are scheduled to work thirty hours in a workweek, they should be furloughed at least 6 hours.   
  10. Can furloughs be broken up within the week, for example take furlough leave in the afternoons but work mornings? 
    As long as the furlough hours in a week add up to eight, supervisors and managers have the discretion to decide whether to allow employees to break up their furlough day into two half-days, or even by taking a furlough in two-hour increments spread over four days. The hours that are taken as part of the furlough must be reported using the correct leave code to maintain eligibility for the SharedWork program and to accurately track cost savings.
  11. Can an employee take the furlough days required through November up front all in a row and be done with it? 
    No. The directive requires that at least one furlough day per week be taken between June 28th and July 25th. Beyond that, although combining some anticipated furlough days may be feasible from an operational perspective for an employer, the SharedWork program provides benefits only to employees that experience a 10-50% reduction in hours in a particular week. Part of the assumed cost savings of the furlough directive comes from the SharedWork program; allowing employees to combine all their furlough days may reduce the savings attained from the furloughs by making them ineligible for the SharedWork program. 

    After July 25th, agencies may consider allowing employees to combine their required furlough days (at least four, or one day per month for August, September, October and November), so long as combining the furlough days does not result in the employee being furloughed more than 50% of their scheduled hours within a work week.
  12. Can an employee split the required furlough days over more than one pay period? Example: Taking four hours the first half of the month (pay period 1-15th) and four hours the second half of the month (pay period 16-end of the month). 
    Yes, after July 25th. After July 25th, an employer can approve splitting the furloughs into 4-hour increments for full time staff, or the prorated equivalent for part time staff. A 4-hour reduction in work during a standard 40-hour week meets the 10% criteria for SharedWork program eligibility. 
  13. For those employees who want to volunteer for more hours of furlough than the one day per workweek, will they be eligible for Employment Security Department’s unemployment insurance through the SharedWork program for the whole time or only the one day per week? 
    ESD makes the final decision on eligibility, but the SharedWork program is available to permanent employees who experience a reduction in their normal schedule of 10-50%. An employee may be eligible under the SharedWork program if they take one or two furlough days per week. Permanent project staff and seasonal employees during their season are also eligible for the SharedWork program.
  14. Can agencies limit the number of hours/days an employee may voluntarily furlough (to avoid long-term unemployment)? 
    Yes. In order to remain eligible for the SharedWork program, an employee can have their work hours reduced between 10-50%. Employers have discretion to approve or deny voluntary furlough requests, but it is important to recognize that there may be a loss of federal funds for that position if an employee’s reduction in hours does not match the 10-50% reduction required for the SharedWork program. 
  15. Do employers have any flexibility in when they impose the furloughs to accommodate their peak workloads (like agriculture inspectors, natural resource agencies, et cetera)?  If so, is there flexibility during the August to November period, or during the June to July period? 
    Not until after July 25. The furlough directive requires affected employees in executive branch Cabinet agencies to take at least one furlough day per week between June 28 and July 25, 2020. These furloughs should not be combined or postponed.

    After July 25, agencies may exercise their discretion in scheduling the required furlough days. The directive requires at least one furlough day per month through the end of November of 2020, which amounts to four furlough days per eligible employee between August and November.

    Exception criteria for implementation of the furloughs are forthcoming, but are expected to be very narrowly applied in order to attain the required cost savings the furloughs are designed to deliver. While more guidance may be coming soon, reduced work hours will mean reductions in services and work production. Awareness of this reality should be communicated to employees explicitly, so that they are aware that they are not expected to accomplish in 32 hours what normally would require 40 hours to accomplish.
  16. Employees who are retiring June 30 and new employees starting July 1 – are they required to take furlough that week? 
    Yes. For employees who are retiring on June 30, unless they are exempt by being in a relief position, they need to take a furlough by June 30.  New employees starting July 1 also need to take a furlough in that week as well.
  17. If we are being furloughed once a week through July 25, then once a month starting in Aug. 1, are we back to regular schedule for week of July 26-31?
    Yes, there is no furlough hour required during week of July 26-31.

Unemployment Insurance Benefits Information:

  1. Do I qualify for unemployment during the furlough? 
    Qualifying employees may apply for unemployment benefits through SharedWork Program. We recommend visiting the Employment Security Department’s website: 

    Along with SharedWork benefits, employees may be eligible for CARES Act. The CARES Act federal funding is available through July 25, 2020. Employees who qualify, will be automatically enrolled eligible employees to CARES Act through SharedWork. 

    To see if you qualify, please check following eligibility checklist – for details, please contact ESD directly.
  2. How soon can I apply for the benefits?
    Eligible employees can begin applying for benefits as early as June 28, 2020. Some employees impacted by unemployment imposter fraud may not be able to log in to their SAW account until July 9.

    To avoid a “wait week” in benefits, employees will want to file their initial application before July 4. An employee is not required to file their initial UI application before July 1st nor take their furlough day for that week prior to July 1.
  3. Do I need to file a weekly claim? 
    Yes, regardless of how many hours you work in a week, you are encouraged to submit a claim every week with ESD beginning the week of July 5th, and each week thereafter through November 2020.
  4. For agencies participating in the SharedWork program, will the employee benefits include both their percentage of weekly benefit amount for the furlough and the CARES funding of $600, a percentage of the $600, or none of it? 
    The CARES Act federal funding is available through July 25, 2020. The intent of the first round of furloughs starting June 28 is that SharedWork benefits for agencies and CARES Act funding for employees will both be available. The $600 available through the CARES Act is a flat dollar amount and is not adjusted in relation to other unemployment benefits.
  5. If an employee was recently hired and has not worked at least 680 hours for their employer, will they still be eligible to receive the $600 per week additional CARES Act benefit when they take the furloughs? 
    If an employee has worked for the state for less than 680 hours, but was previously employed elsewhere—even in another state—they may still be eligible for the CARES Act benefit. The application for unemployment benefits asks the employee about work in other states, previous federal employment and recent military service, any of which could combine with Washington wages to achieve the 680 hours.
  6. Can employees use state resources (i.e. work time) under de minimis rules to apply for unemployment benefits, such as the SharedWork Program?
    Yes, you may use state resources to apply for unemployment benefits.
  7. Can an employee still receive unemployment benefits through the SharedWork program if they take LWOP (not related to the furloughs)?  
    No. When an employee takes leave without pay unrelated to the furloughs, an employee is considered unavailable to work all scheduled hours with their employer. If the employee is unable to work all scheduled hours with their employer, they would not qualify for unemployment insurance benefits. Paid leave counts as work under ESD’s criteria for unemployment eligibility. Unpaid leave (LWOP) does not. Please note the distinction between general LWOP and voluntary furloughs taken as part of the SharedWork Program.
  8. What happens if I don't work all scheduled hours for my employer?
    You are not eligible for SharedWork benefits for any week that you do not work all hours you have been scheduled by your employer. You must be available for additional hours of work, up to your usual weekly hours of work, with the employer. If your employer gives you at least 24 hours notice that additional work is available and you do not work those additional hours, you are not eligible for SharedWork benefits for that week.

    Because the furloughs are to save money, the expectation is employees scheduled for furlough will not work that day unless an emergency or urgent matter arises; the intent to is to decrease the hours employees work.
  9. Can someone who lives outside of WA (i.e. OR) qualify for the SharedWork program?
  10. Where do I find my hourly rate to apply for the SharedWork Program?

    All WSDOT employees expected to participate in the furloughs received an email from WSDOT Leave Administrator with this information included.

    For more information:
    For represented and non-represented General Government Employees, please visit: 

    For overtime exempt employees:
    How to Calculate your Hourly Rate using your latest paystub:
    Go to MyPortal, download your latest paystub
    Take your Total Earnings (first number you see on 1st page, left side of your paystub) and multiply by 2.
    Then, divide your total in #2 by 174 hours.

  11. What if an employee’s Employment Security Department eServices account (SAW) is locked due to an unemployment imposter fraud attempt – can they still file for SharedWork during furloughs?

    Locked SAW accounts -- Many state employees were targeted for unemployment imposter fraud and have had fraudulent claims filed using their names and Social Security numbers. Some employees are likely aware that they were victims and some are not.

    If you’re unable to create a SAW account, please notify your local HR representative so they can report your name to ESD. ESD estimates they will have all locked SAW accounts open and accessible to employees by July 9th. If you have additional questions, please contact your local Human Resources.

Retirement / Benefits:

  1. Will the furlough hours count as hours worked for retirement credit calculations? 
    No. However, as long as an employee in PERS2 or PERS3 receives compensation for at least 90 hours in a month, they will still earn a full retirement credit for the month. Employees in PERS1 receiving compensation for at least 70 hours in a month will still earn a full retirement credit for the month. See below for more detailed information:

    PERS 2 and 3: An employee must receive compensation for 90 hours in a month, in a retirement eligible position, to receive one full month of retirement service credit.  An employee must receive compensation for 70 hours to receive a half month’s service credit and if they receive compensation for less than 70 hours but more than zero hours they will receive a quarter month’s credit.

    PERS 1:   An employee must receive compensation for 70 hours in a month, in a retirement eligible position, to receive one full month of retirement service credit. If they receive compensation for less than 70 hours but more than zero hours they will receive a quarter month’s credit.

    There are some state employees who are covered by other retirement plans. For additional questions about the impact of furloughs on these plans, visit the Department of Retirement Systems’ website: or for specific questions call (360) 664-7000 or (800) 547-6657.  See also: 
  2. What does the furloughs do to my retirement?
    There is a concern that my furlough (reduction in hours) will lower the Average Financial Compensation (AFC). This is not the case for employees who are eligible for the SharedWork Program. Department of Retirement Services (DRS) will identify the highest 60 months of consecutive earnings, no matter where it happens in a career. An emergency ruling was filed on June 23, 2020 to provide protections to employees furloughed to receive the same retirement benefit as if your hours had not been reduced due to the furlough.

    For specific questions, please contact a DRS specialist and/or refer to the information on the DRS webpage: 
  3. How do the furloughs apply to employees using their accrued leave or protected leave entitlements? Is there any impact to employees that are using their 80 hours of expanded COVID leave? 
    Employees using leave will be impacted by furloughs just as those who are working, unless they are in relief positions or meet a narrow criteria for exemption. Previously approved leave scheduled during the time an employee is furloughed should be rescinded. 

    Employees utilizing protected leave (including but not limited to EPSL or EFML), or those utilizing protections under Proclamation 20-46 regarding high-risk individuals, may not be targeted for layoff or reduced hours. If an employer applies documentable, neutral criteria in identifying employees for layoff or reduced hours that is not based on the employee’s use of protected leave, and application of the criteria includes those on protected leave as well as those not on protected leave, this is permissible. If application of the criteria would only impact or would disproportionately impact those on protected leaves, or if there is any other doubt, agencies should seek legal advice before proceeding.

Vacation / Leaves:

  1. Can employees use Annual Leave to supplement all or part of their furlough days?
    No. Employees cannot use any form of Paid Leave to supplement their 8 hours of furlough (or proportionate number of hours based on your work schedule for part-time employees).

    Employees with regular work shifts of more than 8 hours (e.g. 9 or 10 hour work shifts) may use other forms of leave to supplement remaining work schedule with management approval. Paid leave must be used in accordance with Collective Bargaining Agreements and/or Chapter 8 of HR Desk Manual. 
  2. Will employees get extra leave credit for furlough days (i.e. Temporary Salary Reduction Leave)?
  3. What happens to an employee’s scheduled vacation if they are approaching a deadline to take vacation due to their anniversary date but now have to use furlough days?
    All employees are expected to adhere to the directive on 8 hours per week of furlough or the proportionate amount of furlough for part-time employees. Please work with your manager to adjust your schedule to balance your vacation leave and furlough hours. 

    Submissions for Justifications for Excess Vacation (JEV) request must be in compliance with WAC ( or applicable CBA.
  4. If I’ve already been approved for vacation leave, will I need to change that to include furlough days?
    Yes. All employees are expected to take 8 hours of furlough or proportionate amount of furlough per week. Please work with your management team to make appropriate adjustments to your leave submittal in DOTtime. 

Payroll / Schedules:

  1. Will there be a new leave code for furlough use or do we just use leave without pay (LWOP)? 
    Yes. All Employees using DOTtime will put in a leave request for their furlough hours using LWOP-Temp Layoff/ShrdWork. This new code is for mandatory and voluntary furloughs that are part of the SharedWork program.

    If you do not use DOTtime check with your timekeeper or supervisor for instructions.
  2. What if an employee does not want to apply for SharedWork unemployment benefits while furloughed? Do they still need to use the leave codes of LWOP-Temp Layoff/ShrdWork?
    Yes, in order for the agency to properly track and report all required furloughs, please use LWOP-Temp Layoff/ShrdWork to report your furlough hours. Employees who do not want to apply for unemployment benefits will not be required to open an ESD claim or report furloughed hours to ESD.


    Do exception coded staff need to have their exception coding removed in DOT time?
    No, exception coded staff will submit a “leave” request using the codes LWOP-Temp Layoff/ShrdWork.

  4. I understand that I can temporarily change my current flex schedule, in order to meet the minimum eligibility for the SharedWork Program. Can you further explain?
    During the first month of furlough, full-time, permanent employees must take 8 hours of furlough per week. Please work with your supervisor and timekeeper to ensure that you maintain your eligibility for the SharedWork program (i.e. for full-time employee, actual hours worked should be between 20 to 36 hours of a 40-hr work week; for part-time employees, actual worked hours worked should be between 10-50% of your scheduled part-time hours).
  5. If an employee with an alternate schedule is furloughed for one day per week, must they revert to a five-day eight-hour per day schedule, or can an employer offer scheduling flexibility for employees?
    The expectation under the directive is that full time employees reduce their weekly schedule by at least 8 hours. The decision of whether to change an alternate schedule back to a standard five-eight schedule can be made by each employer, with input from the employee(s) impacted. For employees who have an alternative schedule and want to limit their furlough time to 8 hours during a week with a furlough, the simplest solution is to request a schedule change. There is no requirement under the directive to revert employees to a standard schedule, as long as the eight hour furlough is taken by all eligible employees within that week. If the employer changes the schedule of a represented employee to effectuate a furlough and not as a result of an employee request, any notice provisions in the CBA must be followed. Typically an employer-initiated temporary schedule change requires 3-days notice. 
  6. What if I work the 9/80 schedule (i.e. Crazy 9s)? Should I temporarily adjust my schedule during this time?
    It is recommended that employees research/review how their work schedule may impact their eligibility to receive SharedWork Program benefits and work with their supervisors to adjust their schedules, if necessary. (ESD’s work week is Sunday to Saturday and 40 hours per week is considered fulltime. Schedules that are comprised of working a number of 9 hour days, one 8 hour day and a scheduled day off could mean that an employee normally works up to 45 hours in Week 1, and 35 hours in Week 2. If the employee takes 8 hours for furlough during Week 1, they may work too many hours to qualify for the SharedWork program eligibility.) 
  7. Do we need to give up flex schedules through the end of the year? 
    WSDOT is not requiring a blanket change for all employees and schedules. Agencies have the discretion to work with their employees currently approved for flexible and alternative schedules to determine what works best in each situation.     
  8. Do overtime exempt employees become overtime eligible during the week that their hours are reduced (during partial week furloughs)? 
    Yes. During weeks when overtime exempt employees’ hours are reduced (partial week furloughs), overtime exempt employees become overtime eligible for that workweek. However, the objective is to save money, so employees are strongly discouraged from working overtime. Overtime eligible employees are required to track their time, either through positive or negative time reporting practices. Employers will need to decide how to ensure that time tracking for typically overtime exempt employees, and employees with flexible schedules, will occur during the reduced hour weeks. The furlough directive calls for at least one day of furlough per week from June 28th through July 25th – employees with flexible schedules or alternate schedules will still be required to take a full day equivalent furlough day, which in most cases is eight hours.
  9. Does overtime or additional hours worked affect my eligibility for the SharedWork Program or the CARES Act?
    Yes. Additional or overtime hours count as actual hours worked. (For example, if you worked 32 hours on a furlough week and worked 10 hours of overtime, you would report 42 hours worked on your weekly ESD claim.)
  10. How much overtime is allowed (or okay) for regular employees to work during furlough weeks?
    Scheduling overtime hours is at management’s discretion, however, the intent of the furlough is to reduce number of work hours to 32 hours a week. All regular, full-time employees are encouraged to complete their work within the given number of hours without working overtime whenever possible.
  11. How will Overtime (OT) and call-out be administered if a person is on their furlough day? 
    Non-represented employees- There is a possibility you will be called back to work during the furlough. If this occurs, you will be compensated under the provisions of WAC 357-28-185. You may be returned to temporary layoff status upon completion of the work you were called back to perform.
    Represented employees- There is a possibility that you will be called back to work during the temporary layoff. If this occurs, you will be compensated in accordance with your CBA. You may be returned to temporary layoff status upon completion of the work you were called back to perform.
  12. Will OT be allowed if no hours were worked earlier in the day? Will it just be call back?
    What about weekend OT, without working 40 hours in the work week will that be OT or straight time up to 40 hours?

    This is dependent on each employee’s Overtime Eligibility and the applicable Collective Bargaining Agreement.
  13. Will WSDOT be implementing a no overtime policy prior to any implementation of furlough days?
    No. However, any overtime must be scheduled and approved by management in advance of working the additional time.
  14. Has there been the thought of closing down the entire office for a single day (everyone take the furlough on the same day)?
    Management has the ability to determine the business needs and may choose to designate one specific furlough day or use flexibility in scheduling furlough days for staff. Some WSDOT offices are all closing on the same day, others are spread furlough days throughout the week to meet operational needs.
  15. How does standby affect me on a furlough day?
    You can receive standby compensation on your furlough hours. However, please note additional hours worked may impact your unemployment benefits eligibility for the week.
  16. Am I expected to furlough if I am an on-call employee (not a relief position)? 
    Yes. You should not be on-call during a furlough day; please work with your supervisor to adjust the on-call schedule.
  17. Can someone else volunteer to take your furlough?
  18. Will this impact contractors? Should we be reducing their hours as equivalent amount?
    Please consult with your management team. The furloughs are directed for state employees. 
  19. How does a person find out if they are considered a relief employee or not?
    Please work with your management team if you are unclear if you are considered a relief employee. As a reminder, a relief employee is in a position for which a replacement worker (the relief) must be brought in as coverage if the incumbent employee calls in sick. It cannot be left vacant due to statutory or regulatory staffing requirements.


  1. How does someone seek an exemption from the furlough?
    Employees cannot seek an exemption to being furloughed.


General Wage Increase Information:

  1. How do employees tell if they’re affected by the July 1 pay raise? Please clarify who will still receive the 3% wage increase.
    The only impacted group that will not receive any general wage increase or collectively bargained increase will be:
    • Non-represented state employees in Exempt Management Service (EMS) positions and;
    • Non-represented state employees in Washington Management Service (WMS) positions.
    • Employees exempt from civil service making more than $53,000 a year.
  2. Define or explain what “employees exempt from civil service” means.
    Exempt is the term used to identify positions exempt from state civil service law. These positions do not have the same rights as classified positions. A position can be designated exempt either by statute or by the State Human Resources at the request of the Governor or other elected official.

    Overtime exempt is not the same as civil service exempt, please work with your supervisor or HR if you’re unclear which term applies to your position.
  3. Does this impact employee’s annual step increases?
    • For eligible employees, there is no impact to annual periodic increment (PID) increases at this time. 
    • For eligible WMS employees, there is no impact to Growth and Development increases at this time.
  4. Non-represented state employees in Exempt Management Service and Washington Management Service would not get the 3% general wage increase.  Does that also apply to recently reclassified IT employees in the IT Manager and IT Senior Managers in the IT Professional Structure?
    IT Manager and IT Senior Manager positions are not classified as WMS and therefore they will receive the general wage increase.