DOL Announces That Workers Affected by Coronavirus Are Eligible for Unemployment Insurance
Today, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) announced that the Department was granting new flexibility to states to amend their laws to provide unemployment insurance (UI) benefits to workers who are affected by the spread of COVID-19. The Department outlined three specific COVID-19 scenarios in which federal law would allow states to pay benefits. Those scenarios include instances where: (1) An employer temporarily ceases operations due to COVID-19, preventing employees from coming to work; (2) An individual is quarantined with the expectation of returning to work after the quarantine is over; and (3) An individual leaves employment due to a risk of exposure or infection or to care for a family member. Importantly, federal law would not require that an individual quit in order to receive benefits resulting from the spread of COVID-19.
The Department notes, however, that an individual who receives paid sick or family leave is still considered to be receiving pay. Thus, in general, those individuals would not be “unemployed” and would be ineligible to claim unemployment insurance.
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