Pandemic and unemployment issues

Here is a quick update from NELP on what claimants should know if covid-19 leads to their unemployment in some way [emphasis on printing pay stubs now supplied]:

There are two things worth talking about – most immediately, UI in a pandemic, but secondly a troubling [Training and Employment Notice] on work search.

First, because we are getting many inquiries about UI and a pandemic, these are some of our initial thoughts, but we welcome any insight/collaboration with partners.

  1. People whose business shut down but are not sick and are able and available basically meet the standard of having lost work through no fault of their own (states may vary in that interpretation, but we believe those workers should get UI)
  2. An important first step that Congress and states should be thinking about is administrative funding – state agencies are already understaffed because federal funds relate to the unemployment rates. A pandemic could further depress those staffing levels at time of increased initial claims. More funding and an emergency staffing plan is important.
  3. Companies who lose business due to the pandemic, but are not shutting down due to the pandemic, but feel they need to lay off some people should strongly consider work sharing instead of layoffs
  4. We would encourage states to waive both work search and the waiting week in the case of a pandemic. Work search is especially urgent – while many qualifying searches can take place online, we still live in a world where in-person activities happen for lower wage work.
  5. People are asking, and yes – DUA may kick in if the president declares an area to be a disaster area triggering individual assistance, but that only applies to people who exhaust regular UI or are otherwise not eligible (ie self employed). Maurice Emsellem is NELP’s DUA lead and has been working for overall reform, outlined in this document: https://www.nelp.org/publication/responding-at-the-federal-and-state-levels-to-the-needs-of-unemployed-families-resulting-from-hurricanes-harvey-and-irma/  This would be a big step toward pandemic readiness.
  6. Workers should print their pay stubs now just in case, it may be difficult for agencies to verify pay if no one is there to take inquiries at the work site.
  7. This is why we need paid sick and family leave. Workers who are not able and available can’t receive UI for weeks they are sick. No one should experience a financial crisis because they are sick.

Also, I suspect most of you have seen the model legislation contained in this [Training and Employment Notice]: https://wdr.doleta.gov/directives/corr_doc.cfm?DOCN=4227. One of the suggested components is that the agency identify openings that would qualify as suitable work and share with claimants, who would then have one week to apply or be disqualified for UI. Obviously, we find this to be an egregious overreach for obvious reasons – but we’d welcome any thoughts from you all, as well as any heads up if you see any of your states moving to adopt new work search rules.

Thanks, and stay well everyone –
Michele Evermore

Obviously, much of the current federal and state concerns about searching for work in the midst of a pandemic should be considered — at best — a nonsensical requirement. Searching for work, even on-line, requires job interviews and contact that may not be possible either because businesses have too few staff or claimants are ill themselves and should not be going out in public.

Advice about printing pay stubs is important. During the last federal shut down, many federal workers could not get unemployment benefits because no procedures had been put in place to respond to inquires from state unemployment departments to verify the wages of federal claimants. Having your own pay stubs in paper makes such inquiries a secondary matter of importance.

2 thoughts on “Pandemic and unemployment issues

  1. Pingback: Corona virus, being sick, and unemployment | Wisconsin Unemployment

  2. Pingback: Filing tips for unemployment benefits redux | Wisconsin Unemployment

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