Nebraska And Iowa Announce Unemployment Insurance Relief Amid Covid-19 Crisis
As waves of employees across the nation are staying home from work to combat the spread of COVID-19, many are doing so on an unpaid basis. This week, both Iowa and Nebraska announced unemployment insurance relief for both employees and employers amid the COVID-19 crisis.
Generally, to qualify for unemployment benefits, an individual must be unemployed and must actively seek work. Individuals who are on an unpaid leave from employment or are furloughed would not typically qualify for unemployment benefits, and requiring individuals to actively seek work could result in the spread of COVID-19 by forcing the individual into the community. Due to this unprecedented situation, both Nebraska and Iowa have taken emergency action to waive these requirements.
On Tuesday, March 17, Governor Ricketts issued an executive order providing that some requirements for obtaining Nebraska unemployment benefits will be waived starting March 22 and lasting until at least May 2. Specifically, the Governor has allowed the Nebraska Department of Labor to waive:
- the one-week wait time for employees to start collecting benefits;
- the requirement that individuals actively seek work and are willing to take a new job; and
- charges incurred by employers whose team members (or former team members) file for unemployment benefits related to COVID-19.
The executive order also directs the Commissioner of Labor to treat workers in an unpaid status for any reason as a result of COVID-19 as being on a temporary layoff and attached to their employment.
Workers filing for unemployment benefits should do so online at NEworks.nebraska.gov. NEworks also has a free mobile app option for those without access to a computer.
On Monday, March 16, the Iowa Workforce Development published unemployment insurance relief for Iowa employers and employees. If an employee is terminated or has to stay home (and is not being paid) as a result of COVID-19, the individual can receive unemployment benefits if the following eligibility requirements are met:
- The claimant worked and earned a minimum amount of wages (i.e., $2,500) as an employee for an employer in the last 6 to 18 months; and
- The claimant verifies his or her identity through online verification.
The Iowa Workforce Development waived the requirements that a claimant be (a) actively seeking work, (b) registered for work, and (c) able and available for work. The Iowa Workforce Development says claimants can expect to receive unemployment benefits within 7-10 days after filing a claim online at uiclaims.iwd.iowa.gov/UIInitialClaim/.
Any claims filed and identified as a direct or indirect result of COVID-19 will not be charged to employers, meaning the employer’s unemployment insurance tax rate will not be affected. Furthermore, fact-finding interviews for claims related to COVID-19 will not be held, though employers will be notified of claims received.
More information for unemployment benefits in Iowa may be found here: www.iowaworkforcedevelopment.gov.