Last week we blogged about unemployment changes in Alabama, North Carolina, Texas, and Virginia and what employers who have to reduce hours or lay off folks should be considering for their employees. Since our original post we have gotten questions about other states in our region (some of which have taken action), so we figured we would share the information (which we have outlined for you below).
Friday evening, March 20, 2020, the Mississippi Department of Employment Security (MDES) announced it was modifying the rules to allow workers to file unemployment claims if they are:
- Quarantined by a doctor or governmental entity due to COVID-19;
- Laid off or sent home from work without pay due to the COVID-19 avoidance measures;
- Diagnosed with COVID-19; or
- Caring for an immediate family member who has been diagnosed with COVID-19.
The press release did not indicate specific changes to the rules or whether other requirements would be waived. However, the release encouraged affected citizens to apply immediately online. Notably, MDES did not say that individuals who must miss work due to child care issues can file claims.
The governor issued an order waiving the week waiting period for receiving unemployment benefits and the requirement to continue to search for work. Applicants are encouraged to use the website to file claims related to the virus. This waiver is in place for 30 days and only applies to businesses that are temporarily closed and plan to reopen.
The Georgia Department of Labor adopted emergency rules on March 19 and added an update on March 22 The process is now all on line and the gist of the changes are:
- Work search requirements are waived for claims filed on or after March 14, 2020;
- Employees unable to work because of the COVID-19 emergency who expect to be able to return to work after the emergency ceases will be eligible for benefits. This rule applies to all claims filed on or after March 14, 2020, and includes an individual:
- “Quarantined or self-quarantined on the advice of a licensed medical professional;
- Sixty (60) or more years of age;
- With a recognized medical condition making that individual particularly susceptible to COVID-19;
- Who is a caregiver and resides with someone identified in part (b) or (c) of this subparagraph; or
- Who is a custodial parent or legal guardian of a minor whose school is closed due to COVID-19 and is unable to secure childcare.”
- Georgia employers must file partial claims on behalf of their full or part time employees if they temporarily reduce work hours or there is a partial or total company shutdown caused by the COVID-19 emergency on or after March 15, 2020. Failure to do so could result in the employer having to reimburse GDOL for the full amount of unemployment insurance benefits paid to the employee.
- An employer’s account may not be charged for “certain benefits paid for unemployment due to the COVID-19 public health emergency, including benefits paid on partial claims filed on line.”
The Louisiana Workforce Commission issued a statement relaxing some of the rules on unemployment benefits. If a person has (1) work hours reduced due to COVID-19; (2) a workplace that is temporarily shut down due to the virus; or (3) been instructed to stay home due to the virus, then they can immediately file for unemployment benefits. The week waiting period and requirements for continued search for work have been waived for those categories of unemployment. There are stories about the website crashing, however, due to high usage.
The South Carolina Department of Employment and Workforce issued guidance on unemployment benefits making clear that a loss of employment because of the COVID-19 emergency renders an employee eligible for benefits. The FAQ addresses employment losses caused by shut down, layoffs, or reduced hours. Finally, it also states that an employer’s account will not be charged for benefits paid because of a COVID-19 related shutdown.
The Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development has a page devoted to COVID-19 issues. It also has FAQs posted that answer many questions and promises to be updated. Employees who meet other requirements and are (1) unemployed because of a COVID-19 shutdown or (2) quarantined or directed to isolate by a medical professional or health authority, can apply for benefits.