This week, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia made changes to their unemployment insurance systems to help workers impacted by the coronavirus pandemic. In North Carolina, Governor Roy Cooper issued an executive order that makes it easier for workers displaced as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic to receive unemployment insurance benefits. The changes waive several of the normal qualification standards for such benefits and should make it easier for temporarily displaced employees to qualify.
Specifically, the governor’s order provides for the following:
- The seven-day waiting period for collecting benefits is waived.
- Employees with significantly reduced hours will qualify for benefits, even if they remain employed.
- Employees collecting benefits will not have to demonstrate that they continue to look for alternative jobs.
- Employers’ experience ratings, used to set future unemployment insurance premiums, will not be affected by claims filed as a result of the pandemic.
Affected employees can apply for benefits online with the North Carolina Employment Security Commission. As of now, maximum unemployment benefits are capped at $350 per week. Pending federal legislation would provide states with emergency funds to increase these amounts.
In South Carolina, the Department of Employment and Workforce has stated that it may extend unemployment insurance benefits to employees experiencing a reduction in hours. Furthermore, SC DEW is taking extra steps to quickly provide benefits to unemployed workers. In situations where employers submit unemployment claims on their behalf during a “temporary shutdown” or slowdown in business, employees will not be subject to the job application requirement. Those employees can receive six weeks of unemployment insurance without needing to apply for other jobs. The maximum weekly benefit offered in South Carolina is $326.
In Georgia, the Department of Labor announced it is now requiring employers to file partial claims on behalf of their employees “whenever it is necessary to temporarily reduce work hours or there is no work available for a short period.” The idea is to process the benefits – and get payments to laid off workers – faster. Employers who do not file partial claims will have to reimburse GDOL for the full amount of unemployment benefits paid to the employee. The maximum weekly benefit in Georgia is $365.
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