Unemployment Options Concerning COVID-19

With the health impact of Coronavirus coming into full bloom in the region and nationally, we have started to receive inquiries as to what employers can do now that the economic impacts have manifested themselves as well.

While we have posted in an earlier article staffing strategies that you may want to consider, there are also unemployment options that have put been into place by many states including:

Connecticut |

Becoming unemployed due to temporary or long term layoff or termination?  The Connecticut Department of Labor has instituted updated its steps for claimants who are seeking to file for benefits.  Case determinations will be made on a case by case both for claimants seeking benefits due to temporary loss of work as well as layoffs that are longer-term or permanent. 

Click here for information on filing for benefits.

Reduced schedule considerations?  Connecticut’s Shared Work program is designed to save jobs and retain skilled workers, offers an alternative to layoffs by allowing employers to temporarily reduce employee hours and supplement lost wages with the help of partial unemployment benefits. Under the program, all employers with two or more employees can participate. When business upturns, employees resume regular hours and employers are able to ramp up quickly with an experienced team in place.

Click here for more CT Shared Work program information.

Massachusetts |

Layoff or Reductions in force?  Massachusetts has instituted measures to allow for greater accessibility to file for unemployment benefits when work is lost due to business slowdowns related to COVID-19; including the waiving of the customary one week waiting period. 

Click here for information on filing for MA Unemployment benefits.    

Temporary business closures? Additional measures have been instituted to allow individuals access to unemployment benefits if:

  • The workplace is shutdown and expects to reopen in four or fewer weeks. Workers must remain in contact with their employer and be available for any work their employer may have for them that they are able to do, but do not otherwise need to be looking for work.
  • An employer may extend the period of the shutdown to eight weeks, and the employees will remain eligible for the longer period under the same conditions described above.
  • If necessary, DUA may extend these time periods.

Reduced staffing considerations?  Massachusetts has a Workshare Program through its Division of Unemployment Assistance (DUA) that is designed to encourage employers to utilize their workforce in a reduced schedule capacity as opposed to laying people off outright.  The program supplements reduced pay for workers when employers need to reduce their hours and wages. 

Click here for more information on the DUA WorkShare Program.

Rhode Island |

Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training (DLT) has instituted measures to expand access to unemployment insurance, Temporary Disability Insurance (TDI), and Temporary Caregiver Insurance (TCI) programs. 

Not working due to layoffs, business closure or furlough?  Rhode Island unemployment benefits may be available.  According to the DLT, claimants should indicate that their claim is the result of COVID-19.  

Click here for more information or to apply for benefits.  

Unable to work due to being quarantined or having COVID-19 symptoms? Rhode Island Temporary Disability Insurance (TDI) can be an option depending upon employee earnings during the TDI base period.  For individuals under quarantine, DLT will waive the

required medical certification, and instead will allow them to temporary qualify via self-attestation that they were under quarantine due to COVID-19.

Click here for more information or to apply for RI TDI benefits.

Unable to work due to caring for a family member being quarantined or having COVID-19 symptoms or to care for a child due to school or daycare closings? Rhode Island’s Temporary Caregiver Insurance (TCI) can be an option. 

Click here for more information or to apply for RI TCI benefits.

The customary seven-day waiting period has been waived for unemployment, TDI and TCI benefits in Rhode Island.

Reduced staffing considerations?  Rhode Island has established its WorkShare Program in conjunction with the Rhode Island Department of Labor and Training.  The program assists employers facing economic downturns by connecting their workers with Unemployment Insurance (UI) to partially replace wages lost due to a reduction in work hours. 

Click here to view a printable Rhode Island WorkShare Fact Sheet.

A Final Word

There are a number of options available to employers when it comes to unemployment programs to assist businesses in these challenging times.  However, it is also important to note that when it comes to unemployment benefits in general, the United States Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration (ETA) reminds employers that an employee who utilizing existing company paid time off benefits from an employer is still receiving pay and is thus not eligible for unemployment benefits during such time. 

Click here for the DOL’s guidance regarding unemployment compensation flexibilities related to COVID-19.