COVID-19: Unemployment Benefits

Here is a re-post from information provided by attorney Ellen Vance of Spilman, Thomas & Battle in West Virginia regarding employment issues in general and then I added some information about Illinois at the end:
  
According to guidance issued by the Department of Labor, states may amend their unemployment insurance laws to provide unemployment compensation benefits when:

  • 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.

An employee may not have to quit his or her employment in order to receive unemployment compensation due to the effects of COVID-19. However, an individual who is receiving paid sick leave or paid family leave is still receiving pay and is therefore ineligible for unemployment compensation. 

In Illinois, the most up-to-date information is available on the Illinois Department of Employment Security’s website, so this is where you should be sending your employees and former employees:  https://www2.illinois.gov/ides/Pages/COVID-19-and-Unemployment-Benefits.aspx

Here are answers from that website to some of the most commonly asked questions:

What if I’m temporarily laid off because the place where I work is temporarily closed because of the COVID-19 virus?

An individual temporarily laid off in this situation could qualify for benefits as long as he or she was able and available for and actively seeking work. Under emergency rules IDES recently adopted, the individual would not have to register with the employment service. He or she would be considered to be actively seeking work as long as the individual was prepared to return to his or her job as soon the employer reopened.

What if I quit my job because I am generally concerned over the COVID-19 virus?

An individual who leaves work voluntarily without a good reason attributable to the employer is generally disqualified from receiving UI. The eligibility of an individual in this situation will depend on whether the facts of his or her case demonstrate the individual had a good reason for quitting and that the reason was attributable to the employer. An individual generally has a duty to make a reasonable effort to work with his or her employer to resolve whatever issues have caused the individual to consider quitting.

What if I’m confined to my home 1) because a licensed physician has diagnosed me as having COVID-19 or 2) because I must stay home to care for my spouse, parent or child, whom a medical professional has diagnosed  as having COVID-19 or 3) because of a government-imposed or government-recommended quarantine?

An individual in any of those situations would be considered to be unemployed through no fault of his or her own. However, to qualify for UI, he or she would still need to meet all other eligibility requirements, including the requirements that the individual be able and available for work, registered with the state employment service and actively seeking work from the confines of his or her home. The individual would be considered able and available for work if there was some work that he or she could perform from home (e.g., transcribing, data entry, virtual assistant services) and there is a labor market for that work.

FOR EMPLOYERS:

If an employee receives unemployment benefits as a result of COVID-19, will the employer’s unemployment contribution rate increase?

At this time, no further guidance has been issued. Until such time, normal procedures will be followed. In general, the contribution rate of an experience rated employer is based, in part, on the amount of unemployment benefits paid to the employer’s former employees.

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