On March 27, 2020, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (“CARES Act”) became law. Among other things, the CARES Act expands unemployment benefits for workers affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Eligible states must enter into agreements with the federal government to administer such benefits. This Update will focus on the following four elements of the CARES Act: (1) Pandemic Unemployment Assistance; (2) Pandemic Unemployment Compensation; (3) Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation; and (4) Emergency Unemployment Relief for Governmental Entities and Nonprofit Organizations.
Pandemic Unemployment Assistance
Pandemic Unemployment Assistance is available under the CARES Act to workers who are not eligible for regular unemployment compensation or who have exhausted their rights to benefits. Examples include individuals who are self-employed, are seeking part-time employment, or do not have sufficient work history to qualify for regular unemployment benefits.
To qualify for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, the individual must certify that he or she is otherwise able and available to work but is unemployed or partially unemployed because: (1) he or she has been diagnosed with COVID-19 or is experiencing symptoms of it and is seeking a diagnosis; (2) a member of the individual’s household has been diagnosed with COVID-19; (3) the individual is providing care for a family member or a member of the individual’s household who has been diagnosed with COVID-19; (4) a child or other person in the 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 COVID-19, and such school or facility care is required for the individual to work; (5) the individual is unable to reach his or her place of employment because of a quarantine imposed as a direct result of the COVID-19 public health emergency; (6) the individual is unable to reach his or her place of employment because the individual has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine due to concerns related to COVID-19; (7) the individual was scheduled to commence employment and does not have a job or is unable to reach the job as a direct result of the COVID-19 public health emergency; (8) 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; (9) the individual has to quit his or her job as a direct result of COVID-19; (10) the individual’s place of employment is closed as a direct result of the COVID-19 public health emergency; or (11) the individual meets any additional criteria established by the Secretary of Labor.
Pandemic Unemployment Assistance is not available to individuals who have the ability to telework with pay or who are receiving paid sick leave or other paid leave benefits.
Benefits under this section may be available for weeks beginning January 27, 2020 through December 31, 2020 for a maximum of 39 weeks, including weeks the individual received regular unemployment compensation or extended benefits under federal or state law. The amount of assistance will be the amount of the weekly benefit authorized under state law plus $600 per week, except in some cases, including for self-employed workers, the benefit will be determined under federal law plus $600 per week.
Pandemic Unemployment Compensation
For individuals who qualify for regular unemployment compensation under state law, the CARES Act provides for them to receive an additional $600 per week of Pandemic Unemployment Compensation. These benefits will end on or before July 31, 2020.
Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation
Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation extends benefits to workers who have exhausted all rights to regular compensation under state or federal law for up to an additional 13 weeks. The benefit amount will be the amount of compensation payable under state law plus $600 per week. Individuals must be actively seeking work to be eligible for Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation, but states must provide flexibility in this requirement for individuals unable to search for work because of COVID-19, including because of illness, quarantine, or movement restriction. These benefits will end on or before December 31, 2020.
Emergency Unemployment Relief for Governmental Entities and Nonprofit Organizations
Governmental entities and nonprofit entities that self-insure and reimburse the state for unemployment benefits paid to a former employee may be reimbursed for one-half of the amount of compensation paid during the period of March 13, 2020 to December 31, 2020.
If you have questions about this or any other employment law issues, please contact Jill M. Laskowitz at firstname.lastname@example.org or (717) 509-7261, S. Whitney Rahman at email@example.com or (717) 509-7237, or Grace C. Nguyen Bond at firstname.lastname@example.org or (717) 509-7226.
**This update is provided for informational purposes only and
should not be construed as legal advice or as creating an
attorney-client relationship where one does not already exist.**