Unemployment Claims during the COVID-19 Pandemic

Under the new CARES Act signed into law on Friday, March 28, 2020 unemployment benefits were expanded to provide assistance for more workers than are usually eligible for unemployment benefits (this includes self-employed people and part-time workers).  In addition to state benefits, the Act also provides workers an extra $600 per week in unemployment benefits.
In addition to the new federal law, some states have made changes in their unemployment insurance systems to help workers impacted by the coronavirus pandemic as well. In North Carolina, Governor Cooper issued an executive order that makes it easier for workers displaced as a result of the COVID- 19 pandemic to receive unemployment insurance benefits. The changes waive several of the normal qualification standards for such benefits and should make it easier for temporarily displaced employees to qualify.

Specifically, the governor’s order provides for the following:

  • The seven-day waiting period for collecting benefits is waived.
  • Employees with significantly reduced hours will qualify for benefits, even if they remain employed.
  • Employees collecting benefits will not have to demonstrate that they continue to look for alternative jobs.
  • Employers’ experience ratings, used to set future unemployment insurance premiums, will not be affected by claims filed as a result of the pandemic.

Affected employees can apply for benefits online with the North Carolina Employment Security Commission.

Kristin Whalen, Attorney at Law (NC)

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Reinhard von Hennigs