KingSpry | Unemployment Benefits During Coronavirus COVID-19

Update Regarding Pennsylvania’s Unemployment Benefits During Coronavirus Pandemic

Posted on April 2nd, 2020
by Ellen C. Schurdak

Pennsylvania’s unemployment laws have changed in light of the economic impact that the Coronavirus has had on businesses throughout the Commonwealth.

Currently, employees are eligible for unemployment benefits if:

  • An employer temporarily closes or goes out of business because of the Coronavirus,
  • An employer reduces an employees’ hours because of the Coronavirus,
  • An employee has been told not to work because the employer feels the employee may get or spread the Coronavirus, or,
  • An employee has been told to quarantine or self-isolate, live/work in a county under government-recommend mitigation efforts,
  • An employee is caring for a sick family member,
  • Healthcare worker and emergency responders are under quarantine, but do not have the virus.

Additionally, Pennsylvania has relaxed its eligibility rules so that unemployment benefits are now available during an employee’s first week of unemployment.  Employees  are currently relieved from proving  that they have applied for or searched for a new job as a condition to continue to receive unemployment benefits.

This waiver means that those individuals approved for unemployment benefits are now no longer required to register with Pennsylvania’s Career Link.

Pennsylvania continues to be an “at-will state.”  This means that an employer may terminate an employee for any reason so long as the reason is not unlawful.

Pennsylvania and the federal government have recently passed legislation that provides more protection to employees in light of the Coronavirus pandemic.  However, under the Coronavirus Aide Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), employees are now entitled to receive unemployment benefits for an additional thirteen (13) weeks for a total benefit period of thirty-nine (39) weeks.

The CARES Act also provides unemployment compensation benefits to employees known as GIG workers (e.g. UBER and LYFT).  Lastly, the CARES Act provides a $600.00 per week additional unemployment compensation for a period up to four (4) months.

We understand that this may be an unprecedented time of disruption and confusion to your workplace. Please do not hesitate to contact us with any questions.

HR Law Update is a publication of the KingSpry Employment Law Practice Group. Keely Jac Collins is managing editor. HR Law Update is meant to be informational and does not constitute legal advice.