Unemployment Compensation for Reduced Work Hours and Layoffs
March 31, 2020
Employers may find it necessary to reduce work hours or lay off employees due to a lack of work resulting from COVID-19. This is a front and center concern for medical practices, surgery centers, and other provider entities experiencing drastic reductions in their patient evaluations and surgeries.
According to the Georgia Department of Labor (GDOL) Employment Security Law Rule 300-2-4-0.5 Partial Claims adopted on March 19, 2020, employers are required to electronically file partial claims (also known as employer filed claims) on behalf of their full and part-time employee when the employer temporarily reduces work hours or lays off the employee due to COVID-19 and the employee is expected to return to work after the COVID-19 emergency. The requirement is for partial claim weeks beginning on or after March 15, 2020. The Impacted employees usually receive weekly unemployment insurance benefit payments within 48 hours of the filed claim and are not required to register for employment services.
Employers do not submit partial claims for employees who:
- are on scheduled/customary vacation, scheduled/customary plant shut down, or scheduled/customary plant closure (O.C.G.A. Section 34-8-195);
- employed by a temporary agency and are currently working at your place of business;
- were employed in another state in the last 18 months;
- were employed with the federal government or on active military service in the last 18 months;
- are 1099 employees;
- are voluntarily out of work, e.g., quits, requested leaves of absence, self-quarantined, etc.; or
- have been permanently separated from your company.
Employers may file the partial claims using the GDOL Employer Portal, which requires the employer to have an account. Employer must file partial claims for each pay period. See the GDOL website for COVID-19 instructions regarding employer filed claims. Any employer found to be in violation of this rule will be required to reimburse GDOL for the full amount of unemployment insurance benefits paid to the employee.
When an employer files an employer filed claim, the employer should advise the employee of the following:
- The employee does not have to file an unemployment insurance claim (the employer is submitting the employer filed claim);
- The employee can elect to have state and/or federal taxes withheld by GDOL;
- The employee will be receiving unemployment benefit payments using direct deposit or debit card (the Georgia UI Way2Go Debit MasterCard);
- Unemployment benefits are paid to the employee on a weekly basis. All weekly earnings over $50.00 are deducted dollar for dollar from the benefit payment;
- They are NOT required to report to a career center, register for Employment Services on EmployGeorgia.com, or search for work;
- If the employee receives notification from GDOL that their claim is not monetarily valid due to insufficient wages and they know they have other employment in the quarters, they should contact their local career center for assistance; and
- Claims for non-citizens cannot be processed until their legal presence in the U.S. is verified by Homeland Security.
What about an employee who is permanently separated and not expected to return to work after the COVID-19 emergency?
An employee who has been permanently separated would be responsible for filing an unemployment claim directly with the GDOL. Due to the public health emergency, the impacted employee would file the claim electronically. This would be treated like a typical unemployment claim and will take longer for the GDOL to process.
Can the employer file a partial claim for an employee who has self-quarantined for fear of exposure to COVID-19?
Employees who voluntarily choose not to go to work must file their own claims.
Can the employer file for employees who have COVID-19 or have been exposed to the virus?
An employer who directs an employee not to return to work because of their exposure to COVID-19 may file a claim on the employee’s behalf. An employee must file their own claim when he/she voluntarily chooses not to report to work.
Will the employers DOL account be charged for the unemployment benefits?
Employers will not be charged for benefits paid on partial claims they submit because of COVID-19. However, employers will be charged for claims filed by employees, and you will be required to reimburse GDOL for the total amount of benefits paid on individual-initiated claims.
See the links under additional resources for additional information regarding filing claims with the GDOL:
- Article on GDOL website for new information for filing unemployment and partial claims
- Link to GDOL PDF "How to File an Unemployment Claim"
- Link to GDOL PDF "How Employers File Partial Claims"
- Link to GDOL PDF "Employer File Claims Desk Aid"
- Emergency Rules Adopted 3-19-20
- Emergency Rules Adopted 3-26-20