Relief for Workers Affected by Coronavirus Act:
Congress has expanded unemployment insurance to assist those Americans who are out of work as a result of COVID-19. The legislation provides significant expansions to State unemployment insurance laws including an additional 13 weeks of benefits and an additional weekly wage of $600. These benefits may even be available to individuals who would not typically qualify for “regular unemployment insurance.”
Who is Covered by the Relief for Workers Affected by Coronavirus Act?
An individual who:
- Is not eligible for regular compensation or extended benefits under State or Federal law or pandemic emergency unemployment compensation under section 2107 (see below), including an individual who has exhausted all rights to regular unemployment or extended benefits under State or Federal law or pandemic emergency unemployment compensation under section 2107; AND
- Provides self-certification that the individual:
- (I) is otherwise able to work and available for work within the meaning of applicable State law, except the individual is unemployed, partially unemployed, or unable or unavailable to work because:
- the individual has been diagnosed with COVID–19 or is experiencing symptoms of COVID–19 and seeking a medical diagnosis;
- a member of the individual’s household has been diagnosed with COVID–19;
- the individual is providing care for a family member or a member of the individual’s household who has been diagnosed with COVID–19;
- a child or other person in the household for which the individual has primary caregiving responsibility is unable to attend school or another facility that is closed as a direct result of the COVID-19 public health emergency and such school or facility care is required for the individual to work;
- the individual is unable to reach the place of employment because of a quarantine imposed as a direct result of the COVID-19 public health emergency;
- the individual is unable to reach the place of employment because the individual has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine due to concerns related to COVID–19;
- the individual was scheduled to commence employment and does not have a job or is unable to reach the job as a direct result of the COVID-19 public health emergency;
- the individual has become the breadwinner or major support for a household because the head of the household has died as a direct result of COVID–19;
- the individual has to quit his or her job as a direct result of COVID–19;
- the individual’s place of employment is closed as a direct result of the COVID–19 public health emergency; or
- the individual meets any additional criteria established by the Secretary for unemployment assistance under this section; OR
- (II) Is self-employed, is seeking part-time employment, does not have sufficient work history, or otherwise would not qualify for regular unemployment or extended benefits under State or Federal law or pandemic emergency unemployment compensation under section 2107 and meets the requirements of subclause (I) above.
- Covered Individual does not include:
- an individual who has the ability to telework with pay; or
- an individual who is receiving paid sick leave or other paid leave benefits, regardless of whether the individual meets a qualification described in the subparagraphs above.
How much unemployment assistance will be provided?
- The Secretary of Labor shall provide unemployment insurance fully funded by the federal government to any covered individual while such individual is unemployed, partially unemployed or unable to work for the weeks of such unemployment with respect to which the individual is not entitled to any other unemployment compensation beginning January 27, 2020 and ending December 31, 2020.
- A covered employee may receive assistance for up to 39 weeks (including any week for which the covered individual received regular compensation or extended benefits under Federal or State law) subject to an additional extensions that may be made by law after enactment of this Act.
- The weekly benefit amount for the covered individual shall be equal to the weekly benefit amount authorized under the unemployment compensation law of the State where the covered individual was employed.
- The weekly benefit may not be less than the amount as described in section 625.6 of title 20, Code of Federal Regulations or any successor thereto.
- The covered employee shall also receive the amount of Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation as authorized under section 2104, which is an additional $600 per week.
- Should the benefit amount increase after the date of enactment, then the covered employee shall receive an amount equal to such increase.
- For individuals who are self-employed, the weekly benefit shall be calculated in accordance with section 625.6 of title 20, Code of Federal Regulations plus the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation s authorized under section 2104.
- New York State has passed modifications to its unemployment insurance benefits waiving the one-week waiting period and therefore New York employees will be paid their first week of unemployment insurance by the federal government as well.
Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation:
Under Section 2104 of the new law, any State may opt-in and make an agreement with the Federal Government to provide Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation in the amount of $600. The State entering such agreement must agree not to reduce the amount of State benefits an individual would receive.
Therefore, a covered employee, if approved, will receive weekly benefits as calculated in accordance with the laws of the State in which they were employed plus an additional $600 in Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation. This benefit would be available weekly until July 31, 2020.
Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation:
Section 2107 of the new law will provide an additional 13 weeks of emergency unemployment insurance (for a total of 39 weeks as set forth above) for covered individuals who have:
- exhausted all rights to regular compensation under the State law or under Federal law with respect to a benefit year (excluding any benefit year that ended before July1, 2019);
- have no rights to regular compensation with respect to a week under such law or any other State unemployment compensation law or to compensation under any other Federal law;
- are not receiving compensation with respect to such week under the unemployment compensation law of Canada; and
- are able to work, available to work, and actively seeking work.