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Changes to State Unemployment Laws
During COVID-19 Pandemic


Many states have revised and expanded unemployment-benefits coverage for employees affected by coronavirus-related layoffs, shutdowns, and work-hour reductions. Some states are also requiring employers to file claims on behalf of affected employees, creating incentives for employers to do so, and streamlining the process for employer-filed claims. Here is a summary of changes to unemployment-benefits coverage in the eight states and the District of Columbia within Adams and Reese’s footprint that also includes links to additional resources and information for employers.

ALABAMA

  • Employers experiencing coronavirus-related business shutdowns are encouraged to file partial unemployment-benefit claims on their employees’ behalf (i.e., claims for employees who are laid-off for a short period but who employers expect to rehire for the same job)

    • Charges for unemployment benefits resulting from shutdowns will be waived for employers who file partial claims on their employees’ behalf

    • Employers’ experience ratings will not be affected by coronavirus-related claims

    • Employers that currently use the CPUB application, have greater than 5 employees, or have routine layoffs can file partial claims here

  • Employers who do not file partial claims are encouraged to waive their right to respond to any Request for Separation information (BEN 241)

    • BEN 241s will still be mailed to employers; however, employers will not need to respond to the BEN 241s if they notify the Department of Labor in writing that they waive this right

    • Employers can notify the agency by e-mailing Ben241waiver@labor.alabama.gov or by faxing 334-309-9098

    • Waivers should be on company letterhead and include the employers’ state unemployment insurance account numbers

  • No guidance has been issued about whether unemployment benefits resulting from coronavirus-related shutdowns can be charged to the mutual account

  • More information for employees and employers is available here and here

FLORIDA

  • General information for employers is available here; through the Reemployment Assistance Contact Form; and by calling 1-877-846-8770

  • Information about reemployment assistance for employees during the coronavirus outbreak is available here

GEORGIA

  • Employers must file partial claims (now known as employer-filed claims) on behalf of their employees whenever coronavirus makes it necessary to temporarily reduce work hours or if there is no work available for a short period

    • Employers who do not file claims on their employees’ behalf will be required to reimburse the GA Dep’t of Labor for the full amount of unemployment insurance benefits paid to the employee

    • Updated instructions for employer-filed claims are available here

    • The Multi-Claims Upload allows employers to upload Excel spreadsheets using a GA Dep’t of Labor template, which is available in the Employer Portal on the File Employer-Filed Claims application

    • The Single-Claim Entry allows employers to enter their claims information via direct entry for each individual employee; however, the application does not retain the information entered and it must be re-entered each week

  • Employers may enter work authorization information for non-citizens online, and it is no longer necessary to submit a paper Partial Claim Form (DOL-408) for non-citizens

LOUISIANA

  • Employers who are temporarily closing or reducing their hours of operation due to coronavirus should contact the LA Workforce Comm’n to seek assistance and ask questions about unemployment insurance and other programs and resources available

    • Employers who write EmployerServices@lwc.la.gov should provide their company’s name, a point of contact, a telephone number and e-mail address, and specifics on the assistance they are requesting

    • Employers can also call the Employer Call Center at 225-326-6999

  • Non-charges may be granted to reimbursable employers impacted by coronavirus

MISSISSIPPI

  • Employees affected by these coronavirus-related measures may file a claim for unemployment benefits:

    • Those who are quarantined by a medical professional or a government agency;

    • Those who are laid off or sent home without pay for an extended period by their employers due to coronavirus concerns;

    • Those who are diagnosed with coronavirus; and

    • Those who are caring for an immediate family member who is diagnosed with coronavirus

  • Employers’ Unemployment Insurance accounts will be charged for benefits paid to employees because of a lack of work even if it is a result of coronavirus-related business shutdowns, reduced hours, or temporary layoffs

  • Employers who continue to provide health insurance for laid-off employees will not impact the employees’ ability to receive unemployment benefits

  • More information is available here and here

SOUTH CAROLINA

  • The Dep’t of Employment & Workforce encourages employers to file claims for employees who have been laid off or whose hours have been reduced but are still “job attached” (i.e., the employer and the employee both intend that the employee will return to work or increase their hours in the future, and the employee has not been permanently separated from employment)

    • Employers can use an Excel spreadsheet or CSV file to upload several employees at once rather one at a time

    • Employers can file claims at dew.sc.gov; under the Employers tab, click on Employers Bridge to Benefits and login using the employer’s State Unemployment Insurance Tax System (SUITS) username and password

    • If an employer submits a claim on behalf of its employees it should notify the employees, who will need to create an account and certify the claim each week in the Claimant Self-Service Portal

  • Employers will not be charged for unemployment benefits resulting from coronavirus-related hour-reductions, layoffs, or business shutdowns

  • The deadline for paying unemployment insurance taxes for Q1 2020 has been extended from April 30 to June 1, but quarterly wage reports must still be filed by April 30

  • General information about coronavirus and its impact on unemployment insurance benefits is available here and here

TENNESSEE

  • Employers reducing hours or closing due to coronavirus may expedite the unemployment-claim process for their employees by providing one of two lists:

    • Employers who have already closed and are no longer in contact with their employees should submit a Mass Layoff List

      • Employers provide a list of employee names and other required information to expedite the approval process of an unemployment claim

      • Instructions for using the Mass Layoff list are available here

      • Employers can also send mass layoff lists to Mass.Layoff@tn.gov

    • Employers who have not closed and believe they will reopen should submit an Employer-Filed Mass Claim

      • Employers provide a list of employee names and required information to file a claim on behalf of employees

      • Employers who are uncertain of a reopen date should enter 16 weeks from the date of filing in the form

      • Employers filing claims should instruct their employees not to file an individual claim

      • Employees will need to certify employer-filed claims at Jobs4TN.gov each Sunday to be paid in a timely manner

      • Employers can also send partial layoff lists to Partial.Claims@tn.gov

  • Employers who do not file a Mass Layoff List or an Employer-Filed Mass Claim must respond to each employee’s claim, which will delay the benefit-payment process

  • Employers should encourage their employees to have an active e-mail address to ensure this process works efficiently

TEXAS

  • Employers can use the Employer Benefits Services (EBS) portal to submit a Mass Claim Request to streamline the unemployment benefits claims process if faced with a business shutdown or temporary or permanent layoffs

  • Employers who have already laid off employees cannot use EBS to submit a Mass Claim

    • Employers who have 10 or more employees affected by the pandemic should e-mail the Mass Claims Coordinator at ui.massclaims@twc.state.tx.us and ask for Mass Claims documents to submit manually

    • E-mails must include the employer’s name, address, phone and fax number, and TX Workforce Comm’n Tax Account Number; a contact person’s name (authorized representative with signature authority) and e-mail address, phone and fax numbers; and the layoff date and the number of employees affected

  • Employers can use EBS to submit a Shared Work Plan and find out how to avoid laying off workers by reducing the hours of some employees, who can also receive partial unemployment benefit payments

    • More information about Shared Work is available here

  • Employers can also call 866-274-1722

  • Employers must continue to report employee wages and pay unemployment taxes

  • Employers’ responses to a Notice of Application for Unemployment Benefits should include information about how their businesses have been impacted by coronavirus

  • When former employees are eligible for unemployment benefits, affected employers will continue receiving Notices of Maximum Potential Chargeback and will continue to be billed for benefits paid

    • Employer tax accounts may be protected from chargebacks because Governor Greg Abbott has declared a disaster relating to the pandemic

  • Employers must communicate their attendance policies to their staff and should consider creating a flexible plan to manage any need to change sick leave policy to cover staffing during the pandemic and to handle attendance issues

WASHINGTON, DC

  • The Dep’t of Employment Services has expanded unemployment insurance and waived the work-search requirement for employees who become unemployed or partially unemployed as a result of coronavirus, and emergency legislation allows expanded coverage for employees who have been quarantined or placed in isolation, and employees in the hospitality and restaurant industries whose employers have ceased or reduced operations

  • A list of coronavirus-related scenarios and available unemployment benefits is available here

As employers can see from the above information, some states have taken immediate and significant steps to address the significant increase in unemployment claims due to the coronavirus pandemic. In contrast, other states, such as Florida, have not yet implemented any substantive measures to facilitate the processing of or otherwise provide relief to employers or employees in regards to coronavirus-related unemployment claims.

We will continue to monitor changes to the above state’s unemployment laws and emergency measures to address the large influx of coronavirus-related unemployment claims. We will provide periodic updates of relevant changes as states continue to adapt/modify their unemployment claims processes due to the coronavirus.

 

Prepared by:
Myers_Margaret_hs
Cumby_Joshua_hs

Margaret R. T. Myers
margaret.myers@arlaw.com
Nashville
P: 615.259.1009

Joshua Counts Cumby
joshua.cumby@arlaw.com
Nashville
P: 615.259.1024
Washington, DC
P: 202.737.3234



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