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Expanded Unemployment Benefits Available During the Covid-19 Pandemic

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Amy L. Varel
Apr 5, 2020
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As unemployment claims surge in New York due to the Covid-19 pandemic, we have been assisting more and more business clients with questions about unemployment insurance.  Unemployment insurance benefits are generally only available for employees who lose employment through no fault of their own, are ready, willing and able to work immediately and are actively seeking work.  Benefits can be paid for up to 26 weeks and partial benefits are available for employees who work less than four days and made less than $504 in a week.

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (the “Cares Act”) has expanded the unemployment insurance assistance that is traditionally available to workers that have been impacted by Covid-19 (“Pandemic Unemployment Assistance”).  Pandemic Unemployment Assistance is available to workers who do not qualify for regular unemployment insurance benefits and are unemployed, partially unemployed or unable or unavailable to work because:

  • the individual has been diagnosed with COVID–19 or is experiencing symptoms of COVID–19 and seeking a medical diagnosis;
  • a member of the individual’s household has been diagnosed with COVID–19;
  • the individual is providing care for a family member or a member of the individual’s household who has been diagnosed with COVID–19;
  • a child or other person in the household for which the individual has primary caregiving responsibility is unable to attend school or another facility that is closed as a direct result of the COVID–19 public health emergency and such school or facility care is required for the individual to work;
  •  the individual is unable to reach the place of employment because of a quarantine imposed as a direct result of the COVID–19 public health emergency;
  • the individual is unable to reach the place of employment because the individual has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine due to concerns related to COVID–19;
  • the individual was scheduled to commence employment and does not have a job or is unable to reach the job as a direct result of the COVID–19 public health emergency;
  • the individual has become the breadwinner or major support for a household because the head of the household has died as a direct result of COVID–19;
  • the individual has to quit his or her job as a direct result of COVID–19; or
  •  the individual’s place of employment is closed as a direct result of the COVID–19 public health emergency.

Pandemic Unemployment Assistance is also available to individuals who are self-employed, seeking part-time employment or do not have sufficient work history.  However, individuals who have the ability to telework with pay or are receiving paid sick leave or other paid leave benefits are not eligible to receive Pandemic Unemployment Assistance.

The Cares Act extends the number of weeks during which an individual may receive Pandemic Unemployment Assistance from 26 weeks to 39 weeks.  The one-week waiting period has also been waived for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance.

Individuals who are entitled to receive Pandemic Unemployment Assistance are entitled to receive the amount of unemployment benefits that they would normally receive plus an additional $600 per week until July 31, 2020.

You may visit the New York Department of Labor's website for more information about unemployment benefits and Pandemic Unemployment Insurance.

Contact us at MCCM regarding your business needs.

This publication is intended as an information source for clients, prospective clients, and colleagues and constitutes attorney advertising. The content should not be considered legal advice and readers should not act upon information in this publication without individualized professional counsel.

About MCCM

McConville Considine Cooman & Morin, P.C. is a full-service law firm based in Rochester, New York, providing high-quality legal services to businesses and individuals since 1979.  With over a dozen attorneys and a full paralegal support staff, the firm is well-positioned to right-size services tailored to each client. We are large enough to provide expertise in a broad range of practice areas, yet small enough to devote prompt, personal attention to our clients.

We represent a diverse range of clients located throughout New York State and New England.  They include individuals, numerous manufacturing and service industry businesses, local governments, and health care professionals, provider groups, facilities and associations. We also serve as local counsel to out-of-state clients and their attorneys who have litigation pending in Western New York courts.  For more information, please contact us at 585.546.2500.