Gov. Tom Wolf has signed House Bill 68, legislation amending the unemployment law in the wake of the COVID-19 emergency.
The bill codifies the elimination of the one-week waiting period for claims stemming from COVID-19 related layoff or business closure. Contributory employers, as well as reimbursable employers who have paid the solvency fee, will also get automatic relief from charges for these claims.
For reimbursable employers who have not paid the solvency fee, the bill allows employers up to 120 days to pay back benefits due for COVID-19 related claims, with up to 60-day extensions available and no interest charged through January 1, 2021. In addition, reimbursable employers who demonstrate financial hardship may be eligible for interest-free payment plans.
The bill also includes changes to the unemployment process that are likely to outlast the present crisis. First, time for employers to file for relief from charges (where automatic relief is inapplicable) has been extended from 15 days to 21 days. Second, the state now requires employers to notify employees of the following at the time of separation:
- Ability of an employee to file an unemployment compensation claim in the first week that employment stops or work hours are reduced
- Availability of assistance or information about unemployment compensation claims from the Pennsylvania Office of Unemployment Compensation, including specific references to the department’s website and toll free number, (888) 313-7284
- That employees applying for unemployment will need to provide to the office their full legal name, social security number, and, if not a citizen or resident of the United States, proof of work authorization
You may be eligible for unemployment benefits under the Pennsylvania Unemployment Compensation Act. The act does not include any specific information on the consequences of failure to provide these notifications, but the Pennsylvania Department of Labor may issue regulations or guidance in the future on this subject.
If you have any questions on the new unemployment legislation, please contact me or any member of the Barley Snyder Employment Practice Group.
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