The U.S. Labor Department on Thursday provided states with the flexibility to amend their laws to provide unemployment benefits in events related to the coronavirus in an effort to limit the damage on the economy from the pandemic.
States can pay benefits to employees who can’t go to work temporarily as a result of quarantine, as well as those who must leave their job completely due to risk of exposure or because they need to care for a family member. The federal law does not require an employee to quit in order to receive benefits due to the effects of COVID-19.
“The administration is using all available tools to decrease the risk of coronavirus in the United States and to assist workers who may be affected,” Labor Sec. Eugene Scalia said in a statement. “Under the guidance issued today, states have greater assurance about the circumstances in which they are authorized to extend unemployment insurance benefits to Americans whose employment has been disrupted by coronavirus.”
The department also provided information on common issues employers and workers face when responding to COVID-19, including the effects on wages and hours worked under the Fair Labor Standards Act and job-protected leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act.