In these surreal times, many employers are faced with the difficult decision to terminate their otherwise loyal and hard-working employees. And employees are faced with the decision to stay at work, or quit to care for themselves or their loved ones. The ultimate choice can have a great impact on an employee’s eligibility for unemployment benefits.
Governor Pritzker’s Initial Response
In response to this paradox, on March 12, 2020, Illinois Governor JB Pritzker and the Illinois Department of Employment Security announced that they will put in place emergency rules to clarify that those who become unemployed due to COVID-19 can qualify for unemployment benefits.
“The state of Illinois faces unique challenges as we work to mitigate the impacts of COVID-19,” Gov. Pritzker said. “To protect people across the state, it’s imperative that all workers stay home if they’re feeling sick or have come in contact with someone who has COVID-19. In order to overcome the unique challenges we’re facing, we’ve had to come up with innovative solutions and hope the federal government will support this endeavor as we continue to grapple with this public health crisis. If an individual is off work through no fault of their own, they can seek unemployment insurance benefits from IDES. The emergency rules, once filed, will provide assistance to individuals who may be restricted in the type of work they can perform due to COVID-19.”
Then, on March 16, 2020, Governor Pritzker also used his Disaster Proclamation to suspend the otherwise required one-week waiting period under 820 ILCS 405/500(D) of the Illinois Unemployment Insurance Act for the filing unemployment claims for those who are unemployed.
There are various things employers can do to help their workers understand their unemployment rights during this time.
Employers who are concerned about how a business closure may affect their workers should educate themselves so they can help their employees through this difficult time—and hopefully have them return to work when it is over. Contact us today so we can discuss with you how these changes will affect your business.