Wyatt Employment Law Report

Tennessee Joins Other States in Effort to Increase Access to Unemployment Benefits for Workers Affected by COVID-19

By Meredith Eason

On March 19, 2020, Governor Lee signed an Executive Order making it easier for workers affected by COVID-19 to get unemployment benefits in Tennessee.  The Executive Order follows the guidance provided by the U.S. Department of Labor earlier this month.  Specifically, the Order does the following:

1) temporarily suspends the one-week waiting period for benefits;

2) temporarily suspends the requirement that benefit recipients make reasonable efforts to secure work as a condition to receiving benefits; and

3) allows benefits to be granted to any employee who is not working as a result of a quarantine directed by a medical professional or health authority, provided the employee intends to return to work and would otherwise be eligible to collect unemployment benefits.

Employers who are forced to reduce hours or close due to COVID-19 can expedite the process by providing the Tennessee Unemployment Commission with a Mass Layoff List or Employer-Filed Mass Claim.  This will help employees receive benefits more quickly and will allow employers to avoid the process of individually responding to each claim.  More details are available here.

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