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Legal Tracker

Monday, March 23, 2020 – Coronavirus Update on Unemployment and Stay at Home Orders

3/23/2020 | General


  1. PA unemployment –
    1. Pennsylvania has eliminated the waiting week and work search requirements for unemployment recipients.  The waiting week was eliminated on March 20, 2020 for claims starting effective 3/16/20.
    2. Pennsylvania UC will accept applications for unemployment compensation (“UC”) benefits for employees who are required to quarantine by a health care provider, medical provider, or public official (which MAY include employees who are sick with the virus)– a loosening of prior rules.  The PA UC site indicates that employer-provided paid time off should be exhausted before applying.
    3. Pennsylvania UC will accept applications for UC benefits for employees who have their hours reduced or if an employer sends an employee home because of the risk that the employee may spread the virus.  The PA UC site indicates that employer-provided paid time off should be exhausted before applying.
    4. Employees CANNOT file for UC if they need to stay home because their child’s school is closed (but the employee may be eligible for Emergency Family Leave as stated in our ELDI Alert of last week).
    5. If telework is available and the employee chooses not to do so, the employee is not eligible for UC.
    6. Pennsylvania UC has stated that if a company is temporarily closed because of the coronavirus outbreak, the employer will be “granted relief from charges,” meaning that the employer’s tax rate will not be increased because of coronavirus-related claims.  However, the unemployment portion of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (the Federal Act discussed in last week’s ELDI Alert), seems to require a state to not charge any employer who is directly impacted by coronavirus in the workplace or directed to quarantine some workers, which may be a bit more broad in scope than what PA UC has done.  We will wait for the regulations under the Federal Act to obtain more details.
    7. Layoff notices to employees should be issued and should state that the layoff is related to the negative impacts of the coronavirus on the employer.
  2. New Jersey – no updates on unemployment formally published.  The New Jersey legislature has passed a law prohibiting the termination of or other retaliation against an employee who takes time off because the employee has or may have the coronavirus, and requires the employer to restore the employee to his or her position upon return.
  3. Pennsylvania “stay at home” order – Governor Wolf is issuing an order requiring all residents to “stay at home” in Philadelphia, Bucks, Chester, Delaware, Montgomery, Allegheny, and Monroe counties.  Philadelphia had such an order in place following Mayor Kenney’s “stay at home” order on March 21, 2020.  The details of Governor Wolf’s Order have not been published as of the time of this email, but Governor Wolf stated today that residents should leave their homes only to work at “essential” businesses or to obtain food/medicine, or medical treatment.  The order is expected to remain in place until early April.  You may want to consider sending your employees an email or giving them a letter stating that they are required to commute to and from an “essential business” as stated by the Governor’s coronavirus orders if your business is permitted to remain open.
  4. Federal Act – we are awaiting regulations, including the Department of Labor poster referenced in last week’s ELDI alert and will keep you up to date.