The DOL recently expanded Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) eligibility to include three additional COVID-19 related reasons an individual could use to qualify for the benefit.
PUA provides unemployment benefits to individuals who are not eligible for regular unemployment compensation, including workers who ran out of benefits, are self-employed (including independent contractors or gig workers), do not have sufficient wage history to qualify for regular unemployment benefits, or don’t qualify for some other reason. But to get PUA, a worker must also certify that they meet a specific COVID-related reason. We previously posted about PUA and pandemic related unemployment benefits, available here.
The new, additional reasons are:
- A refusal to return to work that is unsafe or to accept an offer of new work that is unsafe. An unsafe workplace is a workplace that does not comply with local, state, or national health and safety standards directly related to COVID-19, including facial mask wearing, physical distancing measures, or the provision of personal protective equipment consistent with public health guidelines.
- An individual who provide services to educational institutions or educational service agencies, and is unemployed or partially unemployed because of volatility in the work schedule that is directly caused by COVID-19, including changes in schedules and partial closures
- An individual experiencing a reduction of hours or a temporary or permanent lay-off as a direct result of the COVID-19 public health emergency.
The additional eligibility provisions apply retroactively to the beginning of the PUA program, although if you did not file an initial PUA claim on or before December 27, 2020, your benefits will start on or after December 6, 2020.
Read the full guidance here. https://wdr.doleta.gov/directives/corr_doc.cfm?DOCN=3202