NJ State Unemployment:

New Jersey is experiencing record numbers of individuals filing for unemployment due to COVID-19 and, not surprisingly, many have questions. Here are some of the most common questions we hear from clients about unemployment (for more comprehensive information, please visit the Division of Unemployment Insurance’s website at https://myunemployment.nj.gov/labor/myunemployment/):

Q: Will I qualify for NJ unemployment?

Generally speaking unemployment benefits are for those workers who are laid-off, furloughed or downsized AND who met minimum earnings requirements. Filing a claim does not guarantee you will receive benefits but all unemployed individuals should file a claim if they believe they may be eligible.

Q: I am afraid to go into work due to COVID-19, can I qualify?

Unemployment benefits are meant for those workers who lost their job “through no fault of their own”. If you voluntarily quit for non-work related reasons or you were fired for misconduct, then your case will be reviewed by a claims examiner who will determine eligibility based on the law. In this situation, your benefits may be delayed or denied.

Q: What are the minimum earnings requirements?

For 2020, you must have earned at least $200 per week during 20 or more weeks in covered employment during the base year period OR at least $10,000 in total covered employment during the base year period. Your base year period is 52 weeks and is defined by the date you apply for unemployment benefits. Those that apply during April – June of 2020 will have January 1, 2019 to December 31, 2019 as their base year.

Q: I receive a 1099 from my employer or am self-employed, can I qualify for NJ unemployment?

Maybe. New Jersey will generally not penalize a worker who was misclassified as a contractor that should really have been classified as an employee. In order to determine whether you are eligible you should file a claim which will initiate a case review. A claims examiner will then determine eligibility base on the law. In this situation, your benefits may be delayed or denied. However, even if denied, you may be eligible for expanded federal unemployment benefits under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act.

Q: I work for a religious organization that was exempt from paying unemployment insurance, can I still qualify for NJ unemployment?

No. Generally speaking, if you and your employer did not pay unemployment insurance taxes then you cannot receive benefits. However, you may be eligible and should still apply since expanded federal unemployment benefits under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act are now available.

Q: I am not working but I am still getting paid by my employer during the COVID-19 crisis, am I eligible for benefits?

No. If you continue to be paid by your employer you are not eligible for unemployment benefits.

Below is a summary of state specific guidance for the NY metropolitan area related to unemployment provisions impacted by COVID-19.

Connecticut 
The Connecticut Department of Labor has clarified that employers will be required to report new and rehired employees after the Governor's current COVID-19 related restrictions have been lifted. Rehired workers are workers that have been separated from the employer for more than 60 consecutive days. New hires must be reported to CTDOL within 20 days of hire. See Payroll Guide ¶20,764 regarding new hire reporting requirements.

Governor Lamont has announced the Connecticut Department of Labor (CTDOL) has suspended the work search requirement for UI benefits. UI benefits are available to workers whose employers have temporarily ceased operations or have experienced a slowdown. Employers who are reducing work hours may be eligible for CTDOL's Shared Work program that permits employers to reduce employees' work schedules by 10% to 60% and supplement lost wages with UI benefits. Connecticut does not have a one- week waiting period. Additionally, CTDOL has released FAQs for workers and employers. The FAQs note that the first quarter payments are due April 30, 2020 and CTDOL has not provided an extension as of yet.

http://www.ctdol.state.ct.us/DOLCOVIDFAQ.PDF

http://www.ctdol.state.ct.us/UI-OnLine/Guide%20for%20Filing%20CT%20Unemployment%20Claims.pdf

New Jersey
The New Jersey Department of Labor & Workforce Development (LWD) has updated its website to clarify what benefits that workers may have available to them during COVID-19- related absences. The website provides various scenarios and what types of benefits the worker may use. A worker who has COVID-19 can: 

  • use earned sick leave as required under state law since October 2018
  • apply for temporary disability insurance (TDI) benefits
  • possibly apply for workers' compensation if the virus was contracted through work-related contact.

Workers out of work due to an employer closing its business or reducing work hours may apply for unemployment benefits. Earned sick leave may be used by workers who have been told to self-quarantine or who cannot report to work due to the business being closed for public health concerns or their child's school has been ordered close. Workers who need time to care for a family member who has COVID-19 may be eligible for Family Leave Insurance (FLI) benefits or may use earned sick leave.

https://www.nj.gov/labor/worker-protections/earnedsick/covid.shtml 

New York
As part of Governor Cuomo's executive order to help relieve the economic impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, New York State is waiving the seven-day waiting period for workers affected by the emergency (e.g., closures or quarantines) to claim unemployment benefits. For those filing new claims, the day to file is based on the individual's last name as follows: letters A through F on Monday, letters G through N on Tuesday and letters O through Z on Wednesday. If the individual's filing day is missed, file on Thursday or Friday The New York Department of Labor has a step-by-step guide for claimants filing online. The New York Department of Labor (NYDOL) has responded to the recently passed federal coronavirus legislation. The NYDOL states that New York is not currently qualified for extended benefits under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. However, NYDOL is monitoring the situation

https://www.governor.ny.gov/news/no-2021-continuing-temporary-suspension-and-modification-laws-relating-disaster-emergency

https://labor.ny.gov/unemploymentassistance.shtm

Pennsylvania
The Pennsylvania Office of Unemployment Compensation has released a series of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) for workers and employers to provide guidance during the COVID-19 (coronavirus) public health emergency. The FAQs for workers note that work search, work registration, and one-week waiting period requirements have been temporarily suspended. Workers are eligible for unemployment compensation (UC) if directed by a healthcare provider or public official to isolate or quarantine or if work hours have been reduced due to COVID-19. The Office notes that part-time workers may be eligible for UC. However, workers are not eligible for UC for absences related to caring for a child due to school closings or the unavailability of a child care provider. Employees may not receive UC and paid leave simultaneously. Workers should exhaust any available employer-provided paid leave prior to applying for UI benefits. The FAQs for employers note that businesses that temporarily close due to COVID-19 will be granted relief from an increase in their UC tax rate. The Office advises employers experiencing financial difficulties or business downtown to use the shared-work program to keep employees attached to the workplace.

https://www.uc.pa.gov/COVID-19/Pages/Employer-COVID19-FAQs.aspx

https://www.uc.pa.gov/COVID-19/Pages/UC-COVID19-FAQs.aspx