CARES info for Unemployment
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (“CARES”) Act was signed into law on March 27, 2020. There are two sections of the CARES Act that affect employers and workers: (1) the Paycheck Protection Program providing forgivable loans to employers; and (2) the Relief for Workers Affected by Coronavirus Act expanding and enhancing unemployment insurance benefits for workers.
To begin, CARES provides an additional $600 per week benefit to certain employees receiving unemployment benefits. Under this expansion, individuals who ordinarily would qualify for unemployment compensation benefits under State law are entitled to both: (1) the regular amount of compensation available under State law, as well as (2) an additional flat-fee amount of $600 per week, which is referred as “Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation.” The additional $600 will be paid by the State of Ohio directly to you (Ohio will be reimbursed by the Federal Government); there are no additional steps you must take to receive this benefit.
In Ohio, workers may be entitled to up to 26 weeks of unemployment benefits. CARES provides an additional 13 weeks of UI benefits as Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation. This generally is available for those individuals who are able to work, available to work, and are actively seeking work. Qualifying workers will also be eligible to receive Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation amounts during the additional thirteen-week period.
The State of Ohio normally requires a 1-week waiting period before unemployment compensation benefits are paid. If a state agrees to waive this one-week waiting period, under CARES the Federal Government will provide the funds to pay for the first week of UI benefits. The State of Ohio has waived the standard 1-week waiting period. Again, there are no additional steps you must take to receive this benefit.
If an individual is unavailable to work due to COVID-19 related reasons (for example, COVID-19 diagnosis, exposure, symptoms, or self-quarantine), they may be eligible for up to 39 weeks of unemployment compensation even though they are not available for work. There are specific eligibility requirements to qualify for this benefit.
CARES provides for temporary Federal financing of short-time compensation programs. A short-term compensation program allows qualified employers to reduce work hours instead of laying off employees. Employees who are part of a short-time compensation program receive unemployment compensation benefits that are pro-rated for the partial workweek reduction. Funded benefits under this component are capped at 26 weeks.
The normal job search waiver that the Finance Office issues will not be required for unemployment related to COVID-19 (“good-guy” or “furlough” letters not necessary). If you file with the mass layoff code 2000180 (which you should) you should not receive a request for union verification during processing. If you inadvertently do not file with that code, ignore any request for union verification.
The Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (“ODJFS”) has created the following site to assist with COVID-19 related unemployment insurance benefits:
Using the information and the forms from this site will expedite the process of receiving unemployment insurance benefits related to unemployment caused by COVID-19. The site also had 36 question/answers (and counting) for specific issues.
Members have had difficulties reaching ODJFS by phone. It is highly recommended, if possible, that you use ODJFS’s online services to file for unemployment compensation benefits. Again, use the above link if your unemployment was/is a result of COVID-19 in some way.