Wyatt Employment Law Report

Flexibility for Unemployment Insurance Benefits Amid COVID-19 Outbreak

By Julie Laemmle Watts

On March 12, 2020, the U.S. Department of Labor provided new guidance for states in administering unemployment insurance benefits in an effort to ease financial burdens for those impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak.

The guidance outlines significant flexibilities for states, including allowing states to pay unemployment insurance benefits where:

(1) an employer temporarily ceases operations due to COVID-19, preventing employees from coming to work;

(2) an individual is quarantined with the expectation of returning to work after the quarantine is over; and

(3) an individual leaves employment due to a risk of exposure or infection or to care for a family member.

In addition, states are permitted to waive the customary one-week waiting period for eligibility, to waive the requirement that individuals be able and available for work, and to waive the requirement that individuals be actively looking for work.  Kentucky has done so.

Individuals should check their state unemployment program for additional details, including how to file for unemployment benefits. A searchable state directory can be found here: https://www.careeronestop.org/LocalHelp/UnemploymentBenefits/find-unemployment-benefits.aspx

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