HR & Employee Assistance
Human Resources and Employee Assistance
Help companies navigate changing rules around paid leave, unemployment, and at-risk employees. Information and resources will connect business to topics including but not limited to: Emergency Family & Medial Leave Expansion Act, Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act, and Interaction for Emergency FMLA and Paid Sick Leave.
The Washington State Employment Security Department (ESD) can provide support in the form of unemployment benefits. For employers that want to keep from losing highly-trained employees, these unemployment benefits can be received through, or while covered by, Shared Work, Partial Unemployment and Standby (which allow certain workers to collect unemployment while remaining with their employers and not actively seeking other jobs).
Provide paid leave benefits for Washington workers who need to take time off from work due to a serious health condition or to care for a family member with a serious health condition. Certification by a healthcare provider is required for applications for Paid Family and Medical Leave due to a serious health condition.
Help impacted workers get connected to unemployment benefits and re-employment services, including re-training, worker support services, and referrals to other social services.
i. RESOURCES : Unemployment Compensation Tip Sheet
i. If you are laid off because of slow business or a closure, you automatically qualify for unemployment benefits.
ii. The state is waiving the normal “waiting week” so that workers can start receiving benefits as soon as possible.
iii. If your hours or pay are cut by more than 25%, you may have good cause to quit and obtain unemployment benefits
iv. If your employer closes operations temporarily, they may be able to obtain “standby” status and allow you to claim benefits for up to 8 weeks, possibly longer. Standby status is now available for part-time workers as well.
v. If you need to self-isolate or quarantine, you may be eligible to receive unemployment benefits.
vi. If you are ill and cannot work, Paid Family and Medical Leave exists to provide you support until you recover.
vii. If your employer is forcing you to work when you are sick, that’s a safety hazard. You may have good cause to quit and receive unemployment benefits while you find new work.
viii. If your employer needs to reduce staff levels, they may initiate a work-share program so that people can work part time and obtain some partial unemployment benefits.
ix. If you are fired for reasons that are not your fault, you have a strong case to receive unemployment benefits.
Unemployment Fraud on the Rise in Washington
With the increase in unemployment benefits, unemployment fraud is on the rise. The Seattle Times reported that over 700 fraudulent claims were reported this month, adding up to over $1.6 million.
How does this impact employers and what should you do?
Pay attention! When you receive a notification of an unemployment claim…read it! Have you laid off that individual? Are they still working for you? Many employers, especially under the current conditions with layoffs abounding, are inclined to dismiss the notification, as they don’t plan to contest the claim. This is dangerous, as it may be the only way the fraud is identified in a timely manner. While it may take time to sort through the paperwork, track who is working, who is not, how many hours, etc., it is worth the effort!
Contact employees! Communicate with impacted employees to verify the information. Did they apply? If they did not apply, refer to the reporting steps below. If they did apply and they are still working, then you have a completely different disciplinary issue to discuss with the HR Hotline!
Notify IT! Let your IT department know of the fraudulent claim so that system security can be checked to ensure that the data breach did not come from your end. If it did, it should be addressed immediately and a data security attorney or your cyber security insurer should be contacted, and employees must be notified.
Report it! Employers should promptly notify the Employment Security Department (ESD) that the employee is still working, and the claim is suspected to be fraudulent.
Provide the steps below to affected employees. Cyber-crime investigators are recommending the following steps for anyone who knows, or believes, they are a victim of unemployment fraud:
Step One – Contact HR
- Contact your organizations HR staff to coordinate and report the incident to your employer.
Step Two – Contact WA State ESD
- Call the WA State Employment Security Dept (ESD) at 800-246-9763 to report the fraud or contact ESD via an online form.
Step Three – File a Police Report
- File an online or non-emergency report with the agency whose jurisdiction you live in.
- If you live in Seattle you can file an online report.
- Start keeping a file folder or journal with the information from this incident, including any case numbers. Some government services and accommodations are available to victims of identity theft that are not available to the general public, such as getting certain public records sealed.
Step Four – Contact Credit Bureaus
- Obtain your free credit reports from Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion at Annual Credit Report.
- Report to the credit bureaus that the fraudulent claim was made using your identity and provide them with the case number from your police report. You can have a fraud alert put on your identity or freeze your credit. Doing either is free by law.
- A fraud alert is free and will make it harder for someone to open new accounts in your name. To place a fraud alert, contact one of the three credit bureaus. That company must tell the other two.
- Check your credit activity at least once a year. As a victim of identity-theft you have the right to check it monthly if you choose.
- Consider placing a Credit Freeze on your report or any dependents in your household. If you do not have upcoming large purchases, such as a home, you may want to freeze your credit for more protection. It is free and you can do it yourself.
Step Five – FTC & IRS
- File a short report with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and give them the case number for the local police report. More info here.
- Consider setting up an IRS account. If you create an account with your social security number, it will prevent criminals from creating an account using your identity.
- Another option is to lock your social security number (the next wave of this cyber-attack may be IRS tax fraud.)
- All of this reporting seems redundant, but you should make sure you are recognized as a victim by the local, state, and federal government. Also, the more people who report it, the more support Law Enforcement agents will get to pursue the perpetrators.
Step Six – Keep Your Notes
- Hang on to any notes, copies of emails, etc. This is the paper trail that you can reference if you face any identity issues or locate inaccuracies on your credit history sometime in the future.
If you have reason to believe someone has applied for unemployment benefits using your information or used a scam to obtain your private information, the ESD urges you to make a report at esd.wa.gov/unemployment/unemployment-benefits-fraud.
You will need the following information:
- Your full name
- Last 4 numbers of your Social Security number (never put your full SSN in an email)
- Your address
- Your date of birth
- Brief description of how you found out an imposter-fraud claim was filed using your information
- Please let us know: If an imposter-fraud claim was filed using your information, do you give us permission to deny and cancel it?
Additional steps you can take if you believe you are a victim of fraud:
- Go to the FTC identity theft website: www.identitytheft.gov for resources on reporting
- Request your free credit reports via www.annualcreditreport.com and review them for other fraudulent activities
- Go to atg.wa.gov/recovering-identity-theft-or-fraud for additional tips from the Washington State Attorney General
COVID19 Scenarios and Benefits Guide
For more information visit:
By U.S. Treasury Department, Internal Revenue Service
i. Small and midsize employers can begin taking advantage of two new refundable payroll tax credits, designed to immediately and fully reimburse them, dollar-for-dollar, for the cost of providing Coronavirus-related leave to their employees. This relief to employees and small and midsize businesses is provided under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (Act), signed by President Trump on March 18, 2020.
ii. The Act will help the United States combat and defeat COVID-19 by giving all American businesses with fewer than 500 employees funds to provide employees with paid leave, either for the employee’s own health needs or to care for family members. The legislation will enable employers to keep their workers on their payrolls, while at the same time ensuring that workers are not forced to choose between their paychecks and the public health measures needed to combat the virus.
- For COVID-19 related reasons, employees receive up to 80 hours of paid sick leave and expanded paid child care leave when employees’ children’s schools are closed or child care providers are unavailable. This applies for businesses with 500 or less employees.
- Employers receive 100% reimbursement for paid leave pursuant to the Act.
- Health insurance costs are also included in the credit.
- Employers face no payroll tax liability.
- Self-employed individuals receive an equivalent credit.
- Fast Funds – Reimbursement will be quick and easy to obtain.
- An immediate dollar-for-dollar tax offset against payroll taxes will be provided
- Where a refund is owed, the IRS will send the refund as quickly as possible.
- Small Business Protection – Employers with fewer than 50 employees are eligible for an exemption from the requirements to provide leave to care for a child whose school is closed, or child care is unavailable in cases where the viability of the business is threatened.
- Requirements subject to 30-day non-enforcement period for good faith compliance efforts.
- To take immediate advantage of the paid leave credits, businesses can retain and access funds that they would otherwise pay to the IRS in payroll taxes. If those amounts are not sufficient to cover the cost of paid leave, employers can seek an expedited advance from the IRS by submitting a streamlined claim form that will be released (Visit for more information https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/treasury-irs-and-labor-announce-plan-to-implement-coronavirus-related-paid-leave-for-workers-and-tax-credits-for-small-and-midsize-businesses-to-swiftly-recover-the-cost-of-providing-coronavirus.)
- Eligible employers are businesses and tax-exempt organizations with fewer than 500 employees that are required to provide emergency paid sick leave and emergency paid family and medical leave under the Act. Eligible employers will be able to claim these credits based on qualifying leave they provide between the effective date and December 31, 2020. Equivalent credits are available to self-employed individuals based on similar circumstances.
- Paid Leave – The Act provides that employees of eligible employers can receive two weeks (up to 80 hours) of paid sick leave at 100% of the employee’s pay where the employee is unable to work because the employee is quarantined, and/or experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, and seeking a medical diagnosis. An employee who is unable to work because of a need to care for an individual subject to quarantine, to care for a child whose school is closed or child care provider is unavailable for reasons related to COVID-19, and/or the employee is experiencing substantially similar conditions as specified by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services can receive two weeks (up to 80 hours) of paid sick leave at 2/3 the employee’s pay. An employee who is unable to work due to a need to care for a child whose school is closed, or child care provider is unavailable for reasons related to COVID-19, may in some instances receive up to an additional ten weeks of expanded paid family and medical leave at 2/3 the employee’s pay.
- Child Care Leave Credit – In addition to the sick leave credit, for an employee who is unable to work because of a need to care for a child whose school or child care facility is closed or whose child care provider is unavailable due to the Coronavirus, eligible employers may receive a refundable child care leave credit. This credit is equal to two-thirds of the employee’s regular pay, capped at $200 per day or $10,000 in the aggregate. Up to 10 weeks of qualifying leave can be counted towards the child care leave credit. Eligible employers are entitled to an additional tax credit determined based on costs to maintain health insurance coverage for the eligible employee during the leave period.
- Prompt Payment for the Cost of Providing Leave – When employers pay their employees, they are required to withhold from their employees’ paychecks federal income taxes and the employees’ share of Social Security and Medicare taxes. The employers then are required to deposit these federal taxes, along with their share of Social Security and Medicare taxes, with the IRS and file quarterly payroll tax returns (Form 941 series) with the IRS.
- Under guidance that will be released next week, eligible employers who pay qualifying sick or child care leave will be able to retain an amount of the payroll taxes equal to the amount of qualifying sick and child care leave that they paid, rather than deposit them with the IRS.
- The payroll taxes that are available for retention include withheld federal income taxes, the employee share of Social Security and Medicare taxes, and the employer share of Social Security and Medicare taxes with respect to all employees.
- If there are not sufficient payroll taxes to cover the cost of qualified sick and child care leave paid, employers will be able file a request for an accelerated payment from the IRS. The IRS expects to process these requests in two weeks or less. The details of this new, expedited procedure will be announced next week.
- Small Business Exemption – Small businesses with fewer than 50 employees will be eligible for an exemption from the leave requirements relating to school closings or child care unavailability where the requirements would jeopardize the ability of the business to continue. The exemption will be available on the basis of simple and clear criteria that make it available in circumstances involving jeopardy to the viability of an employer’s business as a going concern. Labor will provide emergency guidance and rulemaking to clearly articulate this standard.
- Non-Enforcement Period -Labor will be issuing a temporary non-enforcement policy that provides a period of time for employers to come into compliance with the Act. Under this policy, Labor will not bring an enforcement action against any employer for violations of the Act so long as the employer has acted reasonably and in good faith to comply with the Act. Labor will instead focus on compliance assistance during the 30-day period.
- RESOURCES: https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/treasury-irs-and-labor-announce-plan-to-implement-coronavirus-related-paid-leave-for-workers-and-tax-credits-for-small-and-midsize-businesses-to-swiftly-recover-the-cost-of-providing-coronavirus
- The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) will work to deliver rebates quickly in the form of advance payments. For people who filed a federal income tax return in 2018 or 2019, payment processing will be based on payment or address information already on file with the IRS. Electronic distributions will be automatic to an account the payee authorized January 1, 2018 or later.
- The amount of the rebate depends on family size. The payment is $1,200 for each adult individual ($2,400 for joint filers), and $500 per qualifying child under age 17. The advance payment of rates is reduced by $5 for every $100 of income to the extent a taxpayer’s income exceeds $150,000 for a joint filer, $112,500 for a head of household filer, and $75,000 for anyone else (including single filers).
- No, rebates do not need to be repaid. If an individual experienced an income loss in 2020 or if they have an increase in family size, they may be able to claim an additional credit of the difference when the individual files their 2020 tax federal income tax return in 2021
- Rebates will be delivered automatically—by the IRS—to most Americans who file individual federal income tax returns. When available, electronic direct deposit will be used in place of mailing a physical check.
- There is no earned income requirement to be eligible for a rebate, but non-filers may need to take additional steps to receive their rebates. The Social Security Administration will share information for Social Security (Old-Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance) beneficiaries with IRS to help ensure these beneficiaries receive an automatic advance payment. The IRS will conduct a public awareness campaign to reach other non-filers and provide them with information on how they can access rebates.
- The IRS will determine payment delivery systems for everyone entitled to rebates.
- The rebate is considered a tax refund and is not counted towards eligibility for federal programs.
- Taxpayers must have Social Security Numbers for themselves and their qualifying children in order to receive rebates.
- RESOURCES: https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/economic-impact-payments-what-you-need-to-know