By Payroll and Entitlements Editorial Staff
The State of Missouri Division of Employment Security (DES) 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.
Benefit charging. Under the authority of the Governor’s Executive Order 20-12, the Missouri Department of Labor temporarily waived any charges to contributory employers for benefits paid out to claimants as a result of a loss of work due to COVID-19 from March 8 through July 4, 2020. The federal CARES Act provides relief for reimbursable employers such as state and local governmental entities, certain nonprofit organizations, and federally recognized Indian tribes by providing for a 50% reimbursement for quarterly charges on qualifying weeks that have been paid in full. All benefits charged to the reimbursable employer for weeks of unemployment ending March 21, 2020, through December 26, 2020, will qualify for the 50% reimbursement.
Eligibility. Generally, under Missouri unemployment law, most people who are currently employed and quit are not eligible for unemployment benefits. If an employer offers sick leave and/or other leave or remote work options to address COVID-19 in lieu of layoffs, then a person who quits on his or her own volition would not qualify for unemployment benefits.
Extended benefits. Missouri set up the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) program beginning the week of April 26, 2020. This program may provide up to an additional 13 weeks of unemployment benefits to those that have exhausted their regular unemployment benefits. Beginning with the week of May 31, 2020, Missouri triggered on to the Extended Benefits (EB) program offering up to an additional 13 weeks of benefits to individuals who have exhausted both their regular unemployment benefits and 13 weeks of the PEUC. Upon exhaustion of regular unemployment benefits and the PEUC, the DES will issue written notification to all individuals who are eligible to apply for the EB program.
Shared work program. The Shared Work Unemployment Compensation Program is an alternative to layoffs for employers faced with a reduction in available work. To participate, an employer must complete an application for the affected unit within the company, and submit it to the DES for approval. DES notes that the Shared Work program can be beneficial in returning employees to work during an uncertain time as it allows employers the flexibility to scale up or scale down the work force based on changing business needs. Accounts for contributory and reimbursable employers participating in the Shared Work program will not be charged for Shared Work in the program through December 26, 2020.
Work search. Beginning with the week of July 5, 2020, individuals wishing to continue to receive unemployment benefits (including the $600 federal supplement available through July 25, 2020) will be required to perform work search activities that had been lifted for those that had filed a COVID-19-related unemployment claim. To be eligible for unemployment benefits, claimants are required to complete at least three work search activities each week unless directed otherwise by the DES. Examples of valid work search activities are provided on the DES COVID-19 resource webpage.
For additional information, see https://labor.mo.gov/coronavirus.
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