States Have Flexibility With Unemployment Insurance to Respond to COVID-19

March 19, 2020
Inside HR
Read time: 2 mins

The Department of Labor (DOL) announced new guidance outlining flexibilities that states have in administering their unemployment insurance (UI) programs to assist Americans affected by the COVID-19 outbreak.

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.

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, therefore, is 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, seUnemployment Insurance Program Letter No. 10-20.

During the outbreak, many states are relaxing UI eligibility requirements such as the one-week waiting period and the requirement that individuals must be actively searching for work. Information on specific UI programs in the Midwest are listed below:

Minnesota - Unemployment insurance information can be found here and here 

Wisconsin - Unemployment insurance information can be found here  

Iowa - Unemployment insurance information can be found here and here

Illinois – Unemployment insurance information can be found here and here

Source: CCH/Wolters Kluwer