Labor Department shares guide to unemployment

Labor Department shares guide to unemployment

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The U.S. Department of Labor on Monday announced the publication of Unemployment Insurance Program Letter (UIPL) 16-20, providing guidance to states implementing the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program.

Under PUA, individuals who do not qualify for regular unemployment compensation and are unable to continue working as a result of COVID-19, such as self-employed workers, independent contractors, and gig workers, are eligible for PUA benefits. This provision is contained in Section 2102 of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES) Act enacted on March 27.

PUA provides up to 39 weeks of benefits to qualifying individuals who are otherwise able to work and available for work within the meaning of applicable state law, except that they are unemployed, partially unemployed, or unable or unavailable to work due to COVID-19-related reasons, as defined in the CARES Act. Benefit payments under PUA are retroactive, for weeks of unemployment, partial employment, or inability to work due to COVID-19 reasons starting on or after Jan. 27. The CARES Act specifies that PUA benefits cannot be paid for weeks of unemployment ending after Dec. 31, 2020.

Eligibility for PUA includes those individuals not eligible for regular unemployment compensation or extended benefits under state or federal law or pandemic emergency unemployment compensation (PEUC), including those who have exhausted all rights to such benefits. Covered individuals also include self-employed individuals, those seeking part-time employment, and individuals lacking sufficient work history. Depending on state law, covered individuals may also include clergy and those working for religious organizations who are not covered by regular unemployment compensation.

The UIPL also includes guidance to states about protecting unemployment insurance program integrity. The department is actively working with states to provide benefits only to those who qualify for such benefits.

Additional Payment Possible

On April 4, the U.S. Department of Labor today announced the publication of Unemployment Insurance Guidance Letter 15-20 (UIPL) providing guidance to states for Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC). Under FPUC, states will administer an additional $600 weekly payment to certain eligible individuals who are receiving other benefits. This provision is contained in Section 2104 of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) enacted on March 27.

“The $600 weekly unemployment compensation boost included in the CARES Act will provide valuable support to American workers and their families during this challenging time,” said Secretary of Labor Eugene Scalia. “The Department will continue to provide guidance and support to the States so they can administer the important new benefits under the CARES Act while guarding against fraud and abuse in their Unemployment Insurance systems.

This program allows states to provide an additional $600 per week benefit to individuals who are collecting regular Unemployment Compensation (including Unemployment Compensation for Federal Employees (UCFE) and Unemployment Compensation for Ex-Servicemembers (UCX)), as well as the following unemployment compensation programs:  Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC); Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA); Extended Benefits (EB); Short­Time Compensation (STC); Trade Readjustment Allowances (TRA); Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA); and payments under the Self-Employment Assistance (SEA) program. FPUC benefit payments are fully federally-funded.

To provide assistance and assurance to those eligible, the benefit payments under FPUC may begin as soon as the week after the execution of a signed agreement between the department and states. The timeline for these payments will vary by state. As states begin providing this payment, eligible individuals will receive retroactive payments back to their date of eligibility or the signing of the state agreement, whichever came later. All states have executed agreements with the department as of March 28. The CARES Act specifies that FPUC benefit payments will end after payments for the last week of unemployment before July 31, 2020.

The UIPL also includes guidance to states about protecting unemployment insurance program integrity, as the provisions in the CARES Act operate in tandem with the fundamental eligibility requirements of the Federal-State UI program. The department is actively working with states receiving funding under the Act to provide unemployment insurance benefits only to those who are entitled to such benefits.

For more information on UIPLs or previous guidance, please visit: https://wdr.doleta.gov/directives/.

For department resources on COVID-19, please visit: https://www.dol.gov/coronavirus.

For more information about COVID-19, please visit: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html.

The Employment and Training Administration administers federal job training and dislocated worker programs, federal grants to states for public employment service programs, and unemployment insurance benefits. These services are primarily provided through state and local workforce development systems.

The mission of the department is to foster, promote, and develop the welfare of the wage earners, job seekers, and retirees of the United States; improve working conditions; advance opportunities for profitable employment; and assure work-related benefits and rights.

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