Coronavirus Aid, Relief & Economic Security Act Unemployment Compensation Benefits

The CARES Act stimulus package includes changes to unemployment compensation benefits that are available as a result of COVID-19. The Act’s main changes to unemployment compensation are in three provisions: 1. Emergency Increase in Regular Unemployment Compensation Benefits (“PUC”) The CARES Act provides an emergency increase (Pandemic Unemployment Compensation, or PUC) to regular unemployment compensation benefits to all states that opt in to agreement with the U.S. Department of Labor for COVID-19 UC expansion. Participating states will provide individuals who qualify for regular unemployment compensation in their home state with an additional $600 in weekly Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation. This additional funding will be available until July 31, 2020. 2. Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation Benefits (PUA) The CARES Act also provides unemployment benefits to workers who would not otherwise be eligible for regular unemployment compensation through so-called Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, or PUA. States which opt in to agreement with the U.S. DOL for the UC expansion will be eligible to provide the PUC benefits to individuals who: *Have exhausted all of their rights to regular unemployment compensation; *Have no right to regular unemployment compensation (such as independent contractors, part-time workers; and “gig” workers) *Are not receiving unemployment compensation from Canada; and *Are able and available to work and are seeking work. The weekly amount of such benefits will be equal to the individual’s regular weekly amount of unemployment compensation, plus the additional $600 weekly benefit. Individuals may receive a total equal to an amount that is 13 times their average weekly benefit (including the additional $600 weekly benefit) in any single benefit year. This provision should extend unemployment compensation benefits to a large group of workers who do not typically qualify because they are independent contractors, “gig” workers, or misclassified workers. 3. COVID-19 Related Unemployment Benefits (PUA) The CARES Act PUA provisions establish unemployment compensation for individuals unemployed or unavailable for work specifically because of the effects of COVID-19. Those include: *The individual has been diagnosed with COVID-19 or is experiencing symptoms and is 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 household member who has been diagnosed with COVID-19; *The individual’s child, or family member in his/her care, is unable to attend school or another facility closed due to COVID-19; *The individual is unable to reach his/her place of employment due to quarantine imposed because of COVID-19; *The individual has been advised by a healthcare provider to self-quarantine because of COVID-19; *The individual was scheduled to start work but does not have a job or is unable to reach his/her place of work because of COVID-19; *The individual has become the main household earner due to the death of the head of the household due to COVID-19; *The individual had to quit his/her job due to COVID-19; *The individual’s place of employment is closed as a direct result of COVID-19; Excluded from these benefits are individuals who: *Are able to telework with pay; or *Are receiving paid sick leave or other paid leave benefits, regardless of whether the individual meets the qualifications above. Eligible individuals may collect benefits from January 27 until December 31, 2020 and shall continue so long as their COVID-19 related unemployment continues, up to 39 weeks. The 39 weeks will include any week during which an individual receives regular unemployment compensation or any extended unemployment benefits under state or federal law. The weekly benefit amount available will be equal to the normal weekly unemployment benefit plus the enhanced PUC benefit