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Worker Rights and Benefits (Unemployment): What are the New Rules for Unemployment Compensation Benefits Related to COVID-19?



What Are the New Rules for Unemployment Compensation (UC) Benefits Related to COVID-19?

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Ohio Governor DeWine changed the rules for unemployment compensation to allow more people to get benefits.  These changes only apply to traditional unemployment benefits. If you do not qualify for benefits under these rules, you may still qualify under Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA). For more information on PUA, visit https://jfs.ohio.gov/ouio/CoronavirusAndUI.stm.

Who can get COVID-19 Emergency Expansion UC benefits?

You may be able to get unemployment compensation if you worked in “covered” employment (meaning your employer pays unemployment compensation payroll taxes) and:

  1. You are unable to work because your doctor, health agency, or employer asks you to isolate or quarantine yourself because of COVID-19;

OR

  1. Your employer lays you off or takes away hours because of lost business or production because of COVID-19.

You do NOT need to be diagnosed with COVID-19.

You do NOT have to be totally unemployed. If your hours are cut, you may still be eligible for what is called “partial” unemployment compensation.

Also, you must have worked at least 20 weeks and earned at least an average weekly wage of $269 in the past 4 or 5 calendar quarters, not including the quarter when you apply.  If you are not sure about your hours or wages, you should still apply.

Do I Need Evidence or Documentation?

You do not need documentation, but it may help. Even if you do not have documentation, apply immediately. If possible, ask your doctor, health agency, or employer for something in writing that says you were asked to isolate or quarantine because of COVID-19 OR that your hours were cut OR you are being laid off because of the loss of business or production caused by COVID-19.

Do I Qualify if Part of my Pay is from Tips?

If your employer includes your tips in your reported wages, then you are eligible, and you can just apply.   If your employer does not include your tips in your paycheck or reported wages, you need to file an affidavit (signed statement) with your UC application.  The affidavit should say what amount you earned in tips for the last two-week period you worked.  Ohio Department of Job and Family Services will decide the amount of UC benefits you may get based on your affidavit.

Am I Eligible if I Choose to Isolate But No One Asked Me to Do So?

If you choose to isolate yourself on your own and not under the direction of health professionals or your employer, you are probably not eligible for unemployment benefits.

Am I Eligible If I Have to Take Time Off or Quit My Job to Take Care of Family Member Who Is Either Diagnosed with Coronavirus or Is Out of School or Work Due to The Virus?

No, you are probably not eligible for traditional unemployment benefits. Traditional unemployment benefits apply to the worker, not the worker’s family.  However, you may be able to take time off and possibly get paid if you are covered by the Emergency Family Medical Leave Expansion Act and the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act.   You may also qualify for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance if you have to quit your job.

Is There a Wait Before I Receive UC Benefits?

No. If you are unemployed or underemployed due to COVID-19, you can receive benefits immediately.

Do I Need to be Looking for Work During the COVID-19 Pandemic to Receive UC Benefits?

No, during this emergency, there is no requirement that claimants actively search for work each week that they receive benefits. However, claimants still must be “able and available for work.”  If you start receiving UC benefit, you will need to file a weekly job search claim.  Visit this page for step by step instructions.

How Do I Apply for UC Benefits?

Online: http://unemployment.ohio.gov , available 24 hours/day, 7 days/week

Telephone: 877-644-6562 or TTY 1-614-387-8408, Monday through Friday, 7 AM - 7 PM, and Saturday 9 AM - 1 PM

What Do I Need to Apply for UC Benefits?

  • Your Social Security Number
  • Your Driver’s License or State ID Number
  • Your Name, Address, Telephone Number, and Email Address
  • The Reason You Became Unemployed from Your Employer
  • Dependent’s Names, Social Security Numbers, and Dates of Birth
  • If Claiming Dependents, Your Spouse’s Name, Social Security Number, and Birth Date
  • If You Are Not a U.S. Citizen or National, Alien Registration Number and Expiration Date
  • Your Regular Occupation and Job Skills

How Do I Apply If My Work Shut Down or Made a “Mass Layoff” Because of COVID-19?

If you are applying online, begin the general unemployment benefits application. Answer “yes” to the question “At the time of your layoff, did your employer provide you with a Mass Layoff/Buyout Identification Number?” Enter the number 2000180. Answer “No” to the next question.

For a guide with photos, look here:Instructions for Using Your COVID-19 Mass Layoff Number

For a more detailed guide to applying for benefits after a mass layoff, look here: Mass Layoff Instruction Sheet

Where Can I Go for More Information?

Visit the Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services “Coronavirus and Unemployment Insurance Benefits” page:  http://jfs.ohio.gov/ouio/CoronavirusAndUI.stm

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