Employers should become familiar with the expanded benefits available under the CARES Act and advise any workers who may qualify for them to apply through the UI agency of the state in which the workers were employed. Employers should also monitor DOL and applicable state websites for guidance on how the benefits will be administered.
Unemployment Benefits for Coronavirus
Under the CARES Act
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, enacted on March 27, 2020, provides federal funding to expand the availability of unemployment insurance (UI) benefits during the coronavirus (COVID-19) public health emergency. Under this law, virtually all types of workers, even those who otherwise would not qualify for UI benefits, may receive payments for up to 39 weeks of unemployment under certain circumstances.
The CARES Act also provides funding for states to waive any waiting week requirements for UI benefits during the COVID-19 pandemic and to provide an additional $600 per week to all individuals receiving UI benefits for weeks of unemployment ending before July 31, 2020.
The first week for which these benefits are available generally depends on when a particular state enters an agreement with the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) to administer them. According to the DOL, all states have executed agreements as of March 29, 2020.
This Compliance Bulletin provides a summary of the CARES Act’s expanded UI benefit provisions and includes information from related guidance issued by the DOL on April 2, 2020, and on April 4, 2020. Additional guidance is expected in the near future.
Specific Things to Note:
The CARES Act provides federal funding for states to expand the availability of unemployment benefits for COVID-19. Qualified individuals may receive benefits for up to 39 weeks.
Newly Eligible Workers
Independent contractors and other workers who would not otherwise qualify may receive benefits if they are out of work due to COVID-19.
Extra $600 per week
Individuals who receive unemployment benefits for weeks ending before July 31, 2020, will receive an additional $600 for each of those weeks.
Benefit Amounts and Timelines Depend on State
State agencies are responsible for administering the expanded benefits. Weekly benefit amounts and other details depend on state law.
Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) Benefits for Unemployment due to COVID-19 The CARES Act allows individuals who are unemployed because of the COVID-19 pandemic to receive temporary UI benefits called Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA). Eligible individuals include workers who would not otherwise qualify for UI benefits under their applicable state (or federal) law for any reason, such as because they: Are self-employed; Are seeking part-time work; or Do not have sufficient work history. An individual may receive PUA benefits for up to 39 weeks if he or she is otherwise able to work and available for work (as defined under state law), but is unemployed, partially unemployed, or unable or unavailable to work because of at least one of a variety of specified reasons related to COVID-19. The table below provides an outline of these specified reasons. The DOL may establish additional qualifying reasons.
An individual may receive PUA benefits if he or she is not working because:
- The individual has symptoms of COVID-19 and is seeking a medical diagnosis;
- The individual or a member of his or her household has been diagnosed with COVID-19;
- The individual is caring for a family member or a member of his or her household who has been diagnosed with COVID-19;
- A child or other person in the individual’s household for which the individual has primary caregiving responsibility is unable to attend school or another facility that is closed as a direct result of the COVID-19 public health emergency, and that school or facility care is required for the individual to work;
- The individual is unable to reach the place of employment because of a quarantine imposed as a direct result of the COVID-19 public health emergency;
- The individual is unable to reach the place of employment because he or she has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine due to concerns related to COVID–19;
New Job Loss
- The individual was scheduled to commence employment but does not have a job or is unable to reach the job as a direct result of COVID-19;
- The individual has become the breadwinner or major support for a household because the head of the household has died as a direct result of COVID-19;
Has to quit
- The individual has to quit his or her job as a direct result of COVID–19; or
- The individual’s place of employment is closed as a direct result of the COVID-19 public health emergency.
However, an individual is not eligible for PUA benefits if he or she is:
- Able to telework; or
- Receiving paid leave benefits of any kind
For more information regarding HR policies during the COVID-19 crisis,
COVID-19 support and information or other HR needs, contact MyHRConcierge
at 1-855-538-6947 x.108 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.