Under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, the “Relief for Workers Affected by Coronavirus Act” provides for a substantial expansion of unemployment insurance and benefits for workers sidelined for specified reasons associated with COVID-19. Our HR consultants are sharing the following key aspects of the program:
It creates the temporary Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program (the “Program”), to remain in effect until December 31, 2020, which covers individuals who would not otherwise be eligible for unemployment insurance and benefits – the self-employed, independent contractors, gig workers, part-time employment seekers, those who lack sufficient work history, or who have exhausted their unemployment benefits under existing schemes – provided they are able to self-certify that they are unemployed, partially unemployed, or unable to unavailable to work because:
- They have been diagnosed with COVID-19 or are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 that require a medical diagnosis.
- A member of their household has been diagnosed with COVID-19.
- They are providing care for a family member or member of their household who has been diagnosed with COVID-19.
- A member of their household for which they have primary caregiving responsibility is unable to attend school or another facility that has been closed as a direct result of the COVID-19 public health emergency and because of this closure they are unable to work.
- They are unable to work because of a quarantine imposed as a result of the COVID-19 public health emergency.
- They are unable to work because they have been advised to self-quarantine by a health care provider.
- They were scheduled to start a job but are unable to do so as a result of the COVID-19 public health emergency.
- They have become a “major support for a household” because the breadwinner in the household has died as a direct result of COVID-19.
- They quit their job as a direct result of COVID-19.
Covered individuals may receive assistance under the Program for a maximum of 39 weeks, including any weeks for which the covered individual received regular unemployment benefits provided under Federal or State law.
The amount of benefit provided to a covered individual under the Program is equal to the amount of unemployment benefit the covered individual would otherwise be entitled to under Federal or State law plus an additional amount (Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation) in the amount of $600 per week.
The Program removes any waiting periods established by state unemployment laws.
When and how these increased funds will be able to be accessed is not clear at this time. We recommend consulting with an human resources professional to stay on top of these HR compliance updates.
See link for information regarding some of the other provisions of the Cares Act.
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