New guidance outlines state flexibilities for UI programs responding to COVID-19
Tuesday, March 24, 2020

New guidance outlines state flexibilities for UI programs responding to COVID-19

By Payroll and Entitlements Editorial Staff

By Pamela Wolf, J.D.

State flexibilities. The DOL announced that under the guidance, federal law permits significant flexibility for states to amend their laws to provide UI benefits in multiple scenarios related to COVID-19. For example, federal law allows states to pay benefits where:

  • An employer temporarily ceases operations due to COVID-19, preventing employees from coming to work;
  • An individual is quarantined with the expectation of returning to work after the quarantine is over; and
  • An individual leaves employment due to a risk of exposure or infection or to care for a family member. In addition, federal law does not require an employee to quit in order to receive benefits due to the impact of COVID-19.

No UI for those on paid leave. The DOL also pointed out that an individual receiving paid sick leave or paid family leave is still receiving pay, and thus, generally is not “unemployed” and is therefore ineligible for unemployment insurance.

The DOL said that its Employment and Training Administration will continue to assist any states seeking assistance in implementing these flexibilities. For more information, see Unemployment Insurance Program Letter No. 10-20.

“President Trump has made the safety, security, and health of the American people his top priority,” according to Secretary of Labor Eugene Scalia. “The Administration is using all available tools to decrease the risk of coronavirus in the United States and to assist workers who may be affected. Under the guidance issued today, states have greater assurance about the circumstances in which they are authorized to extend unemployment insurance benefits to Americans whose employment has been disrupted by coronavirus.”

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