Furlough for federal workers explained

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Federal workers anticipating furloughs through the government’s sequestration potentially coming Friday have started asking questions about unemployment insurance.

The Employment Security Department has noted an uptick in queries from federally funded workers about whether they will qualify for benefits because of furloughs from federal sequestration.

Naturally, there’s no clear-cut answer. But in general, here’s the rundown: Full-time workers furloughed one day a week over a period of time are not eligible for unemployment because they earn too much in that week to qualify.

If full-time workers are furloughed for most or all of a week — Sunday through Saturday — they could qualify depending on whether they meet other eligibility requirements, including meeting the required number of hours worked to receive the insurance.

The first week an individual is eligible to receive benefits is considered a “waiting week.” It typically opens a worker’s unemployment claim and establishes the beginning of the “benefit year.” Benefits are paid only for the second and subsequent weeks of unemployment. If there is another week — or even most of a week — of furlough a month or two later, the employee could file a “weekly claim” and receive benefits. That would continue through the furlough weeks. More details can be accessed at esd.wa.gov.

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