The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act became law on March 27, 2020, and is a $2.2 trillion economic stimulus package designed to support individuals and businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. This Federal law was initially to become effective 15 days after being passed, which would have made it effective April 2; however, as part of the legislative change, this is mandated to become effective APRIL 1, 2020.
As part of this Act, Unemployment Benefits are receiving an expansion, referred to as the UI expansion bill. This Act is in addition to the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) passed in mid-March.
The CARES Act added an additional $600 to the weekly UI benefits amount that an individual would normally receive, for up to four months, through July 31, 2020. The $600 is in addition to the state benefit amount and applies to all unemployed workers. The Act also increases the length of time someone can be on unemployment benefits to a maximum of 39 weeks. (For many states, this will be an increase of 13 weeks of benefits.)
While these unemployment benefits are generous, employers should still consider their options and incentives under the CARES Act to keep workers employed before making decisions about reduced hours, furloughs, or layoffs.
More Workers are Eligible for Unemployment under the expanded bill
The bill provides supplemental unemployment insurance benefits to individuals who would not normally qualify for traditional UI benefits, such as:
- Self-employed workers;
- Independent contractors;
- Gig workers;
- Low wage workers who can no longer work because of the pandemic;
- Those without sufficient work history;
- Individuals who have exhausted their regular unemployment benefits and extended federal benefits. This means that traditional employees may apply for continued UI benefits after all of their other unemployment benefit options may have expired.
The UI Expansion program runs from January 27, 2020, to December 31, 2020. This means unemployment assistance is available to covered individuals for weeks of unemployment, partial unemployment, or inability to work caused by COVID-19 beginning on or after January 27, 2020, and ending on or before December 31, 2020.
A “covered individual” includes anyone who is not eligible for regular unemployment compensation or expanded benefits and who provides “self-certification” that they are able and available to work but unemployed or partially unemployed or unable to work because of any of the following:
- They were diagnosed with COVID-19 or are experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and are seeking a medical diagnosis;
- A household member was diagnosed with COVID-19;
- They are providing care for a family member or household member diagnosed with COVID-19;
- They are the primary caregiver for a child, or another person in their household, who is unable to attend school or another facility that is closed as a direct result of COVID-19 and that school or such facility care is required for the individual to be able to work;
- They are unable to reach their workplace because of a quarantine imposed as a direct result of COVID-19;
- They are unable to reach their workplace because a health care provider has advised them to self-quarantine because of COVID-19 related concerns;
- They were scheduled to commence employment and do not have a job or is unable to reach the job as a direct result of COVID-19;
- They have become the breadwinner or major support for a household because the head of household died as a direct result of COVID-19;
- They had to quit their job as a direct result of COVID-19;
- Their workplace is closed as a direct result of COVID-19; or
- They meet any additional criteria established by the Secretary of the Department of Labor for unemployment assistance.
Individuals who are able to telecommute or do any form of remote access work, for which they will receive regular pay or who are receiving paid sick leave or other paid leave benefits, regardless of whether they meet any of the qualifications above, may not qualify for these benefits. However, upon exhaustion of other benefits, the Individual may become a candidate for Expanded UI.
One-Week Waiting Period for UI Benefits Removed
Nevada has approved the 1 week waiting period removal under the UI expansion bill. What this means is that effective immediately, affected individuals can apply for UI and there is zero waiting period. Additionally, employees are not required to be “looking for work” while collecting UI benefits.
What if I am working but have a reduction in hours?
If an individual or employee is still working but is experiencing a reduction in hours, they can still apply for UI. The local DETR office will review the claim and make a determination of if the individual qualifies and for what amount of assistance.
Some additional Nevada Specific UI Information:
This is a youtube playlist that shows step by step how to apply for unemployment in Nevada as well as how to file your weekly claim. Please watch the videos below if you have any questions in regards to unemployment and the process.
Here are a few documents issued by Nevada DETR:
https://cms.detr.nv.gov/Content/Media/Bypass_Work_Search.pdf (basically states that you can bypass the weekly work search form and skip to the next step in the weekly claim)
https://cms.detr.nv.gov/Content/Media/Claimant_FAQ_Covid19_0325_ENG.pdf (frequently asked questions in regards to COVID-19 and unemployment)