By Payroll and Entitlements Editorial Staff
The Kansas Department of Labor (KDOL) has issued information regarding its response to the COVID-19 pandemic, including information on the impact of recently enacted federal legislation and a website for employers needing assistance.
Eligibility. If an individual is out of work due to COVID-19, he or she can apply for benefits. For those who are not working due to COVID-19, KDOL is presuming that they are able to work, unless they refuse an offer of suitable employment due to illness or injury. An individual will be considered available for work, if their unemployment is related to COVID-19, so long as they are taking all necessary steps to return to work for their regular employer and/or have not withdrawn from the labor market.
Extended benefits. The Kansas legislature passed a temporary extension to increase the number of weeks an individual would be eligible for unemployment benefits from up to 16 weeks to up to 26 weeks for all claims filed after January 1, 2020. The extension applies automatically; no application or process is required other than to file weekly claims. Those impacted will receive new monetary determinations that include the additional 10 weeks’ worth of benefits.
On June 9, 2020, the U.S. Department of Labor notified the KDOL that the state triggered on to extended benefits (EB). This program provides federal reimbursement to the state for up to an additional 13 weeks of unemployment benefits. The extension took effect on June 7, 2020. The federal CARES Act provides Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) benefits up to 13 weeks. EB would follow the end of PEUC benefits. Claimants would have to exhaust regular UI and PEUC benefits before accessing EB.
Shared work program. Executive Order #20-32 provides temporary relief from certain restrictions concerning shared work programs. The order waives a provision that prohibited a contributing negative account employer (an employer that has paid more in unemployment benefits to its employees than it has contributed to its unemployment insurance account with the state) to participate in a shared work plan. Under the federal CARES Act, the federal government will reimburse 100% of any state unemployment insurance benefits paid through a shared work unemployment program, through the end of 2020.
Waiting week. The waiting week has been temporarily waived for COVID-19-related claimants. Previously, the waiting week was a required nonpayable week that needed to be served on new benefit years.
Work search. KDOL has temporarily waived the work search requirement for claimants separated due to COVID-19. Those claimants do not have to conduct a traditional weekly work search.
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