On March 27, 2020, the federal government enacted the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act or CARES Act.  The CARES Act contains, among other things, the Relief for Workers Affected by Coronavirus Act, which significantly expands unemployment insurance benefits during the COVID-19 public health emergency.  Workers in New York may now be eligible for one or more of the following types of unemployment insurance benefits:

Regular Benefits

Under the New York unemployment insurance law, if you are unemployed through no fault of your own, you may be eligible for unemployment insurance benefits of up to $504 per week for up to 26 weeks.  Your work history for the last five completed calendar quarters before you apply for benefits determines whether you can open a claim and, if so, your weekly benefit rate.  To receive benefits, you must certify for benefits weekly and meet various requirements, such as being totally unemployed and being ready, willing, and able to work, among other things.  If you voluntarily leave or refuse employment without good cause or lose employment through misconduct, you are disqualified from receiving benefits and must earn at least ten times your weekly benefit rate in subsequent covered employment to break the disqualification.

Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC)

If you have a benefit year ending on or after July 1, 2019 (in effect, claimants who opened a claim on or after July 2, 2018) and exhaust your regular benefits, you may be entitled to an additional 13 weeks of benefits until December 31, 2020.

Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (PUC)

From April 5, 2020 to July 31, 2020, if you are otherwise eligible for regular benefits and/or PEUC, you will receive your regular weekly benefit rate plus an additional $600.

Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA)

From January 27, 2020 to December 30, 2020, if you are not otherwise eligible for benefits and are unemployed, partially unemployed, or unable or unavailable to work because of the COVID-19 public health emergency, you may be eligible for PUA.  That includes individuals who exhaust their regular benefits and/or PEUC or would traditionally not be eligible for benefits (e.g., self-employed, independent contractors, insufficient work history).  The weekly amount of PUA is the weekly benefit rate that you would have received if you were otherwise eligible for benefits (including the additional $600 per week of PUC from April 5, 2020 to July 31, 2020).  The maximum duration of regular benefits and PUA that you may receive from January 27, 2020 to December 30, 2020 is 39 weeks. If you have the ability to telework with pay or are receiving paid sick leave or other paid leave benefits, you are not eligible for PUA.

Partial Unemployment

If your wages and/or hours are reduced because of the COVID-19 public health emergency, you may or may not be eligible for benefits.  If you work 4 or more days in a week, regardless of how much you earn, you are not eligible for benefits for that week.  If you earn more than the maximum weekly benefit rate (currently $504) for a week, regardless of how many days you worked, you are not eligible for benefits for that week.  If you work fewer than 4 days and earn less than the maximum weekly benefit rate, may be eligible for partial benefits.  Any activity that brings in or may bring in income at any time, even if it is only an hour or less, and even if you are not paid, counts as a day of work.

If you would like to discuss the new unemployment insurance regulations with qualified employment law attorney, the best way to do so is by reaching out to Jacob Korder through the online contact form at the bottom of his profile page.