Pa. Government Provides Guidance on Unemployment Compensation

March 23, 2020

The following information can be found at: https://www.uc.pa.gov/COVID-19/Pages/UC-COVID19-FAQs.aspx

COVID-19 and Unemployment Compensation (UC)

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) – As of: March 17, 2020

PENNSYLVANIA EMPLOYEES AFFECTED BY COVID-19

If your job has been affected by COVID-19, you may be eligible to receive Unemployment Compensation (UC) benefits. Please continue to read this FAQ for more guidance. Many of your questions will be answered below.

For the most accurate and up-to-date information on COVID-19 in Pennsylvania, visit the Pennsylvania Department of Health’s dedicated coronavirus webpage that is updated daily.

FAQs

  1. Am I eligible for UC if I am out of work because my employer closed (temporarily or otherwise) because of COVID-19?  Yes. The fastest and easiest way is to file an initial claim online. After submitting your initial claim, you will receive a confirmation email with important details. Beginning March 16, 2020:
    • Work Search and Work Registration requirements have been temporarily suspended for all UC claimants.
    • The Waiting Week requirement has also been temporarily suspended. This means that new claimants who are approved for UC benefits will receive payment for their first week of unemployment.

If approved, your first benefit payment should arrive within two to four weeks of filing your initial application. Payments are issued via a debit card or direct deposit. You must continue to file your bi-weekly claim as directed in your “Claim Confirmation Letter’ that you will receive in the mail, even if you are still waiting for your benefit eligibility to be determined. Familiarize yourself with all requirementsto receive benefits from the UC program.

After receiving your PIN in the mail, you can go online to check the status of your claim and see when to expect your payment. Keep your PIN in a safe, easy-to-remember place.

2. Am I eligible for UC if I am quarantined due to COVID-19?If you are currently employed but have been directed by a healthcare provider, medical professional or public official to isolate or quarantine, you may be eligible for UC. Follow the instructions above to file an initial claim.

3. Am I eligible for UC if my hours are being reduced because of COVID-19? You may be eligible and should file an initial claim online.

4. I am a part-time employee. Am I eligible for UC benefits if I have to self-isolate/quarantine or am unable to work because I tested positive for COVID-19? Yes, you may be eligible. See above answers for full-time employees.

5. Am I eligible for UC if I am employed by a school that has been closed by order of the Governor? If you are no longer being paid, including using paid sick leave, you may be eligible for UC.

6. Am I eligible for UC if I have paid leave? You should exhaust all paid leave available through your employer before filing a UC claim:

    • Most paid leave will provide 100 percent of your usual pay, while unemployment benefits typically pay between 50 to 70 percent, depending on your circumstances.
    • Paid leave may be available immediately and allow you to keep receiving a paycheck; it typically takes two to four weeks to receive UC benefits.
    • To be eligible for UC benefits, you must have sufficient wages and must have been employed for a certain number of weeks. Please learn more about financial eligibility here.
    • You may file a UC claim if you know you will exhaust your paid leave. You must report all income received from any source, including paid leave.

7. Am I eligible for UC if my employer offers me the ability to telework/telecommute/work from home? If your employer offers you telework and you are able to perform that work, you are not eligible for UC. However, if the telework your employer offers results in a reduction of hours, you may be eligible for UC benefits.

8. Can I access UC if my child’s school has been closed and I stay home with them? No. UC is only paid to employees whose employer has temporarily or permanently closed their business (including businesses that close due to COVID-19).

9. Can I file for UC benefits if I was told to stay home because my employer thinks I am a risk of spreading or at risk of contracting COVID-19? If you are not receiving pay or using employer-paid sick leave or time off,  you may be eligible for UC benefits. You should file an initial claim online.

10. What if my employer goes out of business as a result of COVID-19? If you are out of work due to lack of work, you may be eligible for UC benefits. See “Am I eligible for UC if I am out of work because my employer closed (temporarily or otherwise) because of COVID-19?”

11. Have any UC rules changed due to the Governor’s emergency declaration regarding COVID-19? The following rules have been temporarily suspended due to Governor Tom Wolf’s emergency declaration to make it easier to file for UC benefits:

    • Work Search and Work Registration requirements are temporarily suspended for all UC claimants. Claimants are not required to prove they have applied or searched for a new job to maintain their UC benefits. Claimants are also not required to register with PACareerLink.pa.gov.
    • The Waiting Week is temporarily suspended for all UC claimants. Previously, eligible claimants would not receive compensation for the first week of unemployment. Eligible claimants may now receive benefits for the first week that they are unemployed.

12. How am I supposed to meet requirements related to my existing UC claim if I am in isolation or quarantine as a result of COVID-19? Under Pennsylvania’s emergency rules currently in place due to COVID-19, the need for work registration and work search for UC benefit eligibility has been waived. You should continue to file your bi-weekly claims.

13. What should I do if I contract COVID-19 at work? Please see L&I’s Workers’ Compensation to learn more.

14. How much in benefits will I receive?

15. How long will it take to receive my benefits?

    • Eligible claimants typically receive their UC benefits in two to four weeks for their initial claim. Benefit payments are issued via a debit card provided by the UC office or through direct deposit.

If you have any questions about these matters, please contact Ethan O’Shea who chairs our employment law practice at (215) 661-0400 or EOShea@HRMML.com

Questions Every Business Must Ask

Q. Has your business recently reviewed its legal structure to determine whether it is set up in the most advantageous manner for legal and tax purposes, considering recent developments and changes in the law?

Q. Do the owners of your business have a current, updated buy-sell agreement which controls how ownership interests in the business are to be transferred in the event of an owner’s death, disability or termination of employment?

Q. Have the owners of your business developed a succession plan to define how ownership and authority will transition upon the death or retirement of the present owners?

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