In an effort to mitigate work slow-downs and stoppages resulting from the COVID-19 crisis, Governor Kemp and the Georgia Department of Labor have enacted an emergency rule providing unemployment benefits for workers affected by partial or complete work stoppages. This temporary rule requires Employers to proactively file for Unemployment Benefits online for all employees whose hours are reduced due to a partial of full shutdown as a result of the COVID-19 emergency.
The emergency rule, which went into effect for claim weeks beginning March 15, 2020:
- Requires employers to file partial claims on the DOL website;
- “With respect to any week during which an employee works less than full time due to a partial or total shutdown caused by the COVID-19 health emergency”;
- Employers are required to file in the event of a full or partial reduction in hours, including part-time workers whose hours are reduced.
- Any employer failing to comply must pay the Commissioner of Labor the full amount of the benefits paid to the employee.
- Claims need not be filed for any employee being paid a benefit (such as sick leave) while out of work, or for employees who were already on a scheduled leave (medical, leave of absence, etc.) prior to the lay-off period.
- Many employers have paid sick leave policies that will cover reductions or absences.
- In addition, Congress has this week passed the “Families First Coronavirus Response Act,” (FFCRA) both providing and requiring paid sick leave for Covid-19 and expanding FMLA leave.
- Claims filed on line by the employer do not require a separate filing by the employee, and results in quicker payment of benefits. Most claims filed on line are paid within 48 hours.
- ALL Georgia employers will share in the cost of unemployment benefits paid as a result of employees temporarily displaced due to COVID-19.
- This COVID-19 Emergency Rule will stay in effect for 120 days (thru July 14, 2020) unless the Department of Labor elects to modify, reduce or extend this deadline.
If you have specific questions regarding the FFCRA or how it applies to your business, please contact any of the members of Drew Eckl and Farnham’s Employment Law Section.