What Pennsylvania Employers & Employees Need to Know About Unemployment Compensation

On March 27, 2020, the House passed the third and largest stimulus package, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act, or the CARES Act, to help large and small businesses, individuals, and families better cope financially with the rapid and relentless ravage that the COVID-19 pandemic has unleashed on the U.S. economy. Among the provisions, this act provides several types of enhanced unemployment benefits, including:

  • A flat $600 benefit, which is paid on top of the regular unemployment compensation to which the worker is entitled

  • Waiver of any benefit application waiting period, so that workers can apply for, and receive, benefits immediately

  • An extension of the period of benefits

  • An extension of coverage to workers who otherwise would not be eligible for unemployment benefits, or who otherwise would have exhausted their unemployment benefits

  • The creation of federal funding for state short-time programs, under which workers are not terminated, but are retained by the employer with reduced hours

Who’s Eligible for Unemployment Assistance During a Pandemic?

Pandemic Unemployment Assistance is available to workers who have exhausted their rights to regular unemployment or extended benefits under state or federal law. They may also be workers who have exhausted their Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation or are self-employed and are seeking part-time employment. Workers who fall under these situations are eligible for benefits so long as they are otherwise able and available to work, but are currently unable or unavailable to work because the employee has or had symptoms of COVID-19, is caring for a family member or household member who has the virus, had to quit his or her job as a result of COVID-19, or whose workplace closed because of the pandemic.

The CARES Act specifically excludes from coverage workers who can telework with pay and workers who are receiving paid sick leave or other paid leave benefits.

What Benefits Are Available to Eligible Employees?

For most eligible workers, the amount of Pandemic Unemployment Assistance will include:

  1. All weekly unemployment benefits authorized by state law

  2. The Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation

The CARES Act also provides federal funding for state “short-time” programs (sometimes referred to as a shared-work program), under which workers are not terminated, but are retained by the employers at a reduced schedule and receive partial unemployment benefits.

However, for eligible workers who are self-employed, who live in certain U.S. territories, or who would not otherwise qualify for unemployment compensation under state law, the amount of Pandemic Unemployment Assistance includes weekly unemployment benefits calculated in accordance with federal law and the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation.

Where Do I File for Unemployment Insurance? | How Do I Apply?

To receive unemployment insurance benefits, you need to file a claim with the unemployment insurance program in the state where you worked. Depending on the state, claims may be filed in person, by telephone, or online. Marsh Law would like to remind you to:

  • Contact your state’s unemployment insurance program as soon as possible after becoming unemployed

  • File your claim with the state where you worked. If you worked in a state other than the one where you now live or if you worked in multiple states, the state unemployment insurance agency where you now live can provide information about how to file your claim with other states

  • Find the contact information for your state’s unemployment office to start your claim

Unemployment insurance is a joint state-federal program that provides cash benefits to eligible workers. Each state administers a separate unemployment insurance program, but all states follow the same guidelines established by federal law.

The Department of Labor & Industry continues to provide important employment benefit updates, Marsh Law continues to help complete all WC claims, file petitions, fight cases, and find justice in every situation.  Find out how the attorneys at Marsh Law can help you file for workers’ compensation benefits.

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