How to Collect Unemployment Benefits During The COVID-19 Pandemic

As the virus continues to spread, people continue to stay in quarantine. Millions of US employees have been fired or furloughed and have filed unemployment. Here’s how to collect unemployment during COVID-19.

The state of California has passed several laws to help combat the economic pitfalls of the stay-at-home order. The Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program allows for unemployment to be spread even further than the federal limits. A worker may apply for the PUA if:

  • They had a definite date to begin work, but the job is no longer available, nor are they able to complete the job.
  • They are unable to travel to the job as a direct result of the pandemic.
  • They quit (or are forced to resign) their job as a direct result of COVID-19.
  • Their workplace is closed as a result of COVID-19.
  • They are unemployed, partially employed, or unable to work because COVID-19 does not allow them to work.

Some may be denied PUA claims. If your claim is denied, and you are unable to work due to quarantine or sickness, you may apply for Disabilities Insurance. If you are caring for a sick person, you may also be eligible to claim Paid Family Leave from the state of California.

As of May 10th, the US has had a higher unemployment rate than during the Great Depression. An estimated 14.7% of Americans have been laid off work, with millions of new unemployment filings being reported every week. The US government has passed the CARES Act in order to try to combat the crippling effect of the pandemic. The CARES Act stretches federal unemployment benefits to self-employed individuals and those who have been laid off due to COVID-19 related reasons. Workers who have been told to self-isolate, help care for the sick, or are unable to work due to stay-at-home orders may be eligible to collect unemployment during COVID-19.

If you or a loved one is seeking to collect unemployment during COVID-19, we invite you to contact us at Pride Legal for legal counseling or any further questions.

Have you been laid off because of this pandemic?

If you are apart of the 14.7% (and growing) unemployed Americans, you may qualify for collecting unemployment. Many ‘non-essential’ businesses have been forced to lay off workers. If your place of employment was considered ‘non-essential’, you may qualify for receiving unemployment benefits from the state. You must be out of work at no fault of your own to qualify for unemployment benefits.


Federal and State Leave Laws

Employers may offer what is legally required under the FMLA Act and allow employees to have 12 weeks of unpaid, job-protected sick leave. Many employers now are extending that time, allowing for up to 36 weeks unpaid. The FMLA covers employers who have employed 50 or more workers for 20 or more weeks of the current or preceding year. To be eligible for FMLA leave, employees must have worked for the employer for at least 12 months, with a total of 1,250 hours (an average of about 24 hours per week) over the previous year. Also, eligibility rules for claiming unemployment benefits vary from state to state.

Am I safe from coronavirus at work?

The California OSHA regulations have been updated to reflect on the current pandemic. OSHA protects certain employers under the Aerosol Transmittable Diseases (ATD) Standard. The ATD Standard applies to:

  • Hospitals, nursing homes, clinics, medical offices, home health care, long-term health care facilities, hospices, medical transport, and emergency medical services
  • Certain laboratories, public health services, and police services that expect to expose employees to an aerosol transmissible disease.
  • Correctional facilities, homeless shelters, and drug treatment programs.
  • Any other businesses or locations that OSHA informs in writing that they must comply with the ATD Standard

Employees not covered under these circumstances should follow the CDC’s recommendations on infection prevention measures. Although the ATD standard doesn’t apply to all workers and employees, OSHA requires all employers to have a safe and clean environment and must have an IIPP to protect employees in the workplace. If an employee believes they are in an unsafe environment, they have the right to tell the employer and/or refuse to work. Under the OSH Act, employers cannot fire, discipline, or take other negative actions against employees who complain about workplace safety.

Contact Pride Legal

If you or a loved one is seeking to collect unemployment during COVID-19, we invite you to contact us at Pride Legal for legal counseling or any further questions. To protect your rights, hire someone who understands them.