CARES Act | Unemployment Guidance Issued by DOL
Please note: The below information may require updating, including additional clarification, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to develop. Please monitor our main COVID-19 Task Force page and/or your email for updates.
On Saturday, April 4, 2020 and Sunday, April 5, 2020, the U.S. Department of Labor issued two new rounds of guidance to states regarding the expanded unemployment insurance benefits available to workers affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
This guidance provides clarity concerning section 2104 of the CARES Act— Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation benefits. The FPUC provides for a temporary emergency increase in unemployment compensation benefits and includes funding to the states for the administration of the program. Under the program, eligible individuals are provided $600 per week in addition to the weekly benefit amount they receive from other unemployment compensation programs. The additional $600 applies to employees who receive benefits under the following programs:
The additional $600 per week is not available to employees in certain training programs in which their state provides “additional benefits” under state law. In order to qualify for the FPUC $600 benefit, an individual must have received a nominal amount ($1) of regular unemployment compensation benefits for a given workweek. While it would seem that a person entitled to regular unemployment benefits would meet the $1 threshold, this is not necessarily the case. For example, an individual that works part-time—who may be otherwise eligible for unemployment compensation—will not be eligible for the $600 payment if they receive $0 in regular unemployment compensation for that week because their compensation for that week exceeds the state's weekly benefit amount. If an employer seeks to reduce an employee’s hours, but wants to make sure that they are eligible for the additional $600, the employer should schedule an employee’s hours so that the employee’s compensation is below the state’s weekly benefit amount.
Payments under the FPUC are available starting on or after the date on which the state enters an agreement with the DOL through the week unemployment ends, which is on or before July 31, 2020. Currently, all states have entered into an agreement with the DOL. The FPUC is fully federally funded and states are not allowed to charge employers for FPUC benefits.
Individuals that are receiving paid leave or have the ability to telework are not eligible for PUA. However, an individual who is receiving paid leave or teleworking for less that their typical weekly pay may be entitled to PUA benefits. States may begin making PUA benefits after they have entered into an agreement with the DOL, and PUA benefits are fully federally funded.
Diane L. Prucino
Christopher M. Caiaccio
Desmond M. Dennis
Leah M. Farmer