Anecdotal evidence suggests work fatigue has increased during the COVID-19 pandemic, and work interventions to offset stresses have been effective. Our study sought to test these propositions, documenting and describing the complexity of worker well-being around two lockdown periods. Using 17 waves of data from a longitudinal study in Germany (December 2019 to June 2021, n = 1,053 employees), we model discontinuous changes in work fatigue and how participation in a government-sponsored short-term work program (Kurzarbeit) affected change trajectories. The COVID-19 pandemic has not invariably resulted in work fatigue, and individuals with Kurzarbeit at the first lockdown (but not the second) showed significantly larger decreases in each form of fatigue at this transition. Future policy interventions will require more contextual nuance to effectively support worker well-being during public health crises.