Assistance to Separated Workers
As we confront the many challenges brought about by the Coronavirus (COVID-19), federal and state lawmakers have been working tirelessly to minimize the financial hardships placed on workers who have lost their jobs as a result of the disease outbreak. Expanding the availability of unemployment compensation (UC) is one way to assist workers. So that workers can easily access those benefits, employers are now required to provide employees with notice of the availability of UC at the time of separation.
Employer notice to employees of the availability of UC and the application process at the time of separation is a new procedure. Requiring employers to provide this notification is one of the conditions placed on states to share in federal emergency grants available to states to administer and pay UC benefits due to the heavy demand created by the COVID-19 health emergency. The Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) appropriated $1 billion in federal funds for this purpose. The Emergency Unemployment Compensation Stabilization and Access Act of 2020 (“EUISAA”), included in the FFCRA at Division D, sets out the requirements to receive the federal funding.
Federal funds are allocated to states in two separate allotments. To receive funds from Allotment I, the EUISSA places three conditions on grant recipients: (1) the state must require employers to provide notification of the availability of UC to employees at the time of separation, (2) the state must ensure that applications for benefits and assistance be accessible in at least two of the following mediums: in-person, phone or online and (3) the state must notify applicants when an application is received and is being processed and, if an application is unable to be processed, provide information about steps the applicant can take to ensure successful processing of the application. (42 U.S.C. § 1103(h)(1)(C)(i)). A state is eligible for Allotment II funds provided the state has: (1) expressed its commitment to maintain and strengthen access to the UC system and (2) taken steps to ease eligibility requirements and access to UC, including temporarily waiving work search requirements and the waiting week, and non-charging employers impacted by COVID-19 or public health order. (42 U.S.C. § 1103(h)(1)(C)(ii)).
Employer Notification to Employees of Availability of Unemployment Compensation
The U.S. Department of Labor has developed a model notice complying with the requirement that employers notify employees of the availability of UC upon separation. The model notice informs employees of:
- The availability of UC benefits and when to file a claim;
- Contact information for assistance with filing a UC claim;
- Information that must be provided to process the claim:
- Full legal name;
- Social Security Number; and,
- Authorization to work (if not a U.S. Citizen or resident);
- The methods of filing a UC claim by phone or online; and
- Contact information for questions about the status of a claim.
Guidance from the US DOL (UIPL 13-20) indicates that employers can provide the UC notification by letter, email, text message or flyer given or sent to the separated worker.
States are implementing the federal notification requirement by executive order, amending law, or issuing emergency rules that require employers to provide separated employees with the described notification of the state’s UC program. To facilitate compliance, many states have released UC notification forms that employers may use to provide notification to separated employees, which includes information specific to filing UC claims in their state. Other states have directed employers to develop a state-specific notification based the federal model. The U.S. DOL has clarified that the UC poster a state may require employers to post in the workplace is insufficient for this purpose. Notice must be provided individually and at the time of separation.
Employers are encouraged to verify that they are providing proper UC notification to employees at the time of separation. Need help locating your state’s notification requirements or notification form? Give us a call. We will be happy to guide you.