Shared Work Unemployment Insurance Program

If you are a DC worker affected by COVID-19, the District has programs that may be able to help, including the Shared Work Unemployment Insurance Program ("Shared Work"). Shared Work is a way for businesses in the District to keep employees on staff during the COVID-19 pandemic AND reduce payroll costs.

If your business has been impacted due to COVID-19, you may believe you have no choice but to lay-off your employees, but Shared Work provides an alternative. The program can be used to fill gaps in employee pay caused by reduced hours, allowing you to keep your valuable, trained staff in place until you can ramp up hours again.

Employees also benefit because they get to keep their jobs and can rely on a steady source of income. Under the Shared Work Program, the employer still pays employees for their scheduled (but reduced) hours, and employees can supplement reduced pay (due to loss of hours) with federal unemployment benefits. Workers will retain any existing job benefits under this program, including health insurance, and would receive any supplemental unemployment insurance payments, like the previous $600-a-week federal payment.

Click here to go to the Department of Employment Services' (DOES) official Shared Work Unemployment Insurance Program page for more information. 

Facebook Live Info Session on Shared Work

Shared Work Event

A discussion of DC's Shared Work unemployment insurance program, with Zach Herman from the National Conference of State Legislatures and Councilmember Elissa Silverman.

Posted by Elissa Silverman on Tuesday, August 18, 2020



To qualify for the Shared Work Program employers must:

  • Be located within the District 
  • Reduce/plan to reduce payroll hours for all participating employees by no less than 10% and no more than 60%. 
  • Enroll a minimum 10% of their employees in a Shared Work Plan. At least two employees of an affected department, shift, or unit must be included. 

Shared Work can be used for full-time or part-time employees who were on your payroll as of the last quarter, even if you temporarily laid off employees due to COVID-19. Employers can take part in the program for up to 50 weeks.


Employers must submit a plan to the DOES that shows how available hours will be spread among employees via:

  • If approved: Your Shared Work Plan is effective as of the date in your approval letter.
  • If denied: You can submit a new plan up to three times within a 12-month period.

To follow up on your application status or for questions, email [email protected]. For additional details, see the DOES Shared Work Program Guide:  

Do All My Employees Have to Participate?

No! Shared Work can be used for a department, shift, or unit. An employer’s plan for Shared Work must apply to a minimum of 10% of their employees. At least two employees of an affected department, shift, or unit must be included. 

How Are Employee Benefits Calculated?

The amount of cash assistance an employee is eligible for from the Shared Work Program is calculated the same way as the District calculates regular unemployment benefits. Under the Shared Work Program, a worker can receive a percent of their total unemployment benefits equal to the percent of work hours they have lost. 

For example, if Jane Doe’s hours are reduced by 40%, she can receive 40% of the total unemployment benefits for which she is eligible – even while still working.

Employees participating in the Shared Work Program will not receive benefits above the maximum DC unemployment benefit of $444/week.

Does Participating in the Program Affect My Experience Rating? 

The employer's tax rate will not be negatively effected by their participation in the Shared Work program. 

Who Can I Talk to About My Rights?

Washington Lawyers' Committee Workers' Rights Clinic, 202-319-1000

Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia, 202-628-1161

The Claimant Advocacy Program (CAP) of the Metro Washington Council AFL-CIO, 202-974-8159 or 202-974-8149