The federal government’s Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act includes several provisions related to unemployment insurance benefits. The U.S. Department of Labor (DoL) regularly posts press releases and other documents to assist individuals with sections of the CARES Act and its relief provisions – including the relevant information that is aimed at workers who are unemployed due to business closures, furloughs, layoffs and/or stay-at-home orders. The attorneys at Sears & Associates encourage all employees and employers to stay up-to-date on the Department of Labor’s postings. To review the Department’s announcements, press releases and publications, head to the DoL’s general webpage and proceed from there: https://www.dol.gov/.
These three letters posted by the DoL in early April of 2020 specifically address unemployment insurance benefits during the COVID-19 crisis:
- On April 2, 2020, the U.S. Department of Labor announced the publication of Unemployment Insurance Program Letter 14-20 (UIPL). This publication outlines several “provisions of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act related to the administration of and eligibility criteria for state unemployment insurance (UI) programs, including Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) for those not typically eligible for UI, such as gig workers, and expanded UI benefits.” The Department of Labor also stated that the April 2 Letter is the first of “several upcoming UIPLs to states on the unemployment insurance provisions of the CARES Act.” The full text of UIPL 14-20 can be found here: https://wdr.doleta.gov/directives/attach/UIPL/UIPL_14-20.pdf.
- April 4, 2020, the Department of Labor issued UIPL 15-20, a letter which provides specific guidance to states for Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC), Section 2104 of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act). This letter, directed at state administrators, encourages states to work with this federal government in administering important, new, federally-funded benefits: “[A]n additional $600 per week benefit to individuals… .” As far as timing of the additional payments to individuals, the DoL adds, “The timeline for these payments will vary by state. … eligible individuals will receive retroactive payments back to their date of eligibility or the signing of the state agreement, whichever came later.” The good news for those employees recently laid-off as a result of COVID-19: “All states have executed agreements with the department as of March 28, 2020.” Find the full-text of UIPL 15-20 here: https://wdr.doleta.gov/directives/corr_doc.cfm?DOCN=9297.
- On April 5, 2020, the U.S. Department of Labor released an additional letter about unemployment insurance, UIPL 16-20. This letter was issued to provide further guidance to states “for implementation of the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program.” The full text of that UIPL release as well as multiple attachments are located here: https://wdr.doleta.gov/directives/corr_doc.cfm?DOCN=4628. In the press release announcing UIPL 16-20, the department reminds states that, “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.”