Regardless of whether you are in Washington or Oregon, if your employer wants to put you on temporary furlough, be forewarned and forearmed – you must have a return to work date or you may have your unemployment benefits denied!
There is a mistake that some members are making when they are laid off by their employer but do not come back to the Hall (i.e. they go “on the hook”). The mistake is that they do not tell Unemployment that they have a specific return to work date.
Both Oregon and Washington have rules that govern this. In Oregon, when you take a temporary layoff, you are entitled to receive unemployment benefits without having to look for work, but only if the employer has, as of the layoff date, given you a date certain to return to work that is no later than four calendar weeks following the week in which the temporary layoff occurred. If that date passes, you must immediately begin seeking work in order to remain eligible for unemployment benefits. Additionally, the work you are returning to must either be full-time or pay as well if not more than your weekly unemployment benefit amount. (See OAR 471-030-0036(5)(b).
In Washington, the rule is very similar: WAC 192-110-015 also provides that you can be on “standby” for up to four weeks. Your employer can request to extend the "standby" for an additional four weeks for a total of eight weeks, but that extension is not automatically granted and must first be evaluated and approved by the Employment Security Department. Again, it is a condition of the unemployment rules that the employer has given you a specific return to work date. The Department will not approve unemployment if all you have is the prospect of future work or a promise of future work at some unspecified date.
Note: In Washington, the Department will not approve unemployment if you regularly work less than 40 hours, and the maximum amount of benefits that can be obtained while on “standby” is eight weeks in any benefit year.
Bottom line: If your employer wants to put you on the hook, make sure that you have a return to work date that is four weeks or less into the future. In Washington, there is a maximum of eight standby weeks, but those additional four weeks are not automatically granted. Oregon does not have that maximum, but you must still have a specific return to work date given to you at the time of layoff.
Remember: If you return to the Hall and sign the Out-Of-Work List, you are eligible for withdrawal of any supplemental unemployment funds you have in your Flex Account; if you stay on the hook, you are not.