Although much of life is uncertain at the moment, the state and federal government have outlined some information to support those who are employed and unemployed during the Coronavirus outbreak.
For those facing outbreak related unemployment: On March 17th, Governor Reynolds announced assistance for Iowans whether they are out of work or are caring for a sick loved one. Iowa Workforce Development website has key information including information on unemployment insurance claims:
If you are laid off due to COVID-19 or have to stay home to self-isolate, care for family members or due to illness related to COVID-19, you can receive unemployment benefits, provided you meet all other eligibility requirements. Work search requirements will be waived. Those requirements essentially include working for wages from an employer who claims you as an employee in six of the last eighteen months and have earned at least $2,500 in the same time period. More specific explanation of benefit eligibility can be found on the website for the 2019 Unemployment Insurance Claimant Handbook.
- Claimants can expect to receive payment within 7-10 days after the date the claim is filed.
- Claims that are filed and identified as a direct or indirect result of COVID-19, will not be charged to employers. Fact-finding interviews for these claims will be waived and not be held although employers will be notified of claims received.
- IWD will process unemployment insurance payments to ensure payment will continue to be paid in a timely manner.
Webinars addressing the State’s relief efforts will be recorded by Iowa Workforce Development. Their two webinars, one for information for employers and one for unemployment insurance claims, will be posted online on the IWD COVID-19 Information Page.
For those who need to file unemployment but do not have a computer or internet access: As of Tuesday, March 17, the IowaWORKS office at 1000 N Roosevelt Ave #9, Burlington, IA 52601 has not closed its doors. The office is open on weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., except for Wednesdays when it opens at 9 a.m. You can file in person or by calling 1-866-239-0843. Those who are not U.S. citizens will need their alien identification number and the date when it expires.
If you need to apply over the phone, you will need your social security card and your state identification (e.g, drivers license number). If you want to have checks deposited to a checking account, you will need your bank’s routing number and your account number.
For more information, you can speak to a member of staff at the local office by calling. 319-753-1671 NOTE: As of 3/19/2020, only 10 people can served at a time. Please call before visiting on site.
For those employed and working from home: Mediacom announced that they are, “Pausing monthly data allowances across all Mediacom broadband service tiers through May 15, 2020.” CenturyLink is also “suspending data usage limits for consumer customers during this time period due to COVID-19.”
Some service providers have signed the “Keep Americans Connected Pledge.”
From Federal Communications Commission’s news release: “The Keep Americans Connected Pledge reads as follows: Given the coronavirus pandemic and its impact on American society, [[Company Name]] pledges for the next 60 days to:
- not terminate service to any residential or small business customers because of their inability to pay their bills due to the disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic;
- waive any late fees that any residential or small business customers incur because of their economic circumstances related to the coronavirus pandemic;
- and open its Wi-Fi hotspots to any American who needs them
For those employed and working on site: The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has resources to help employers and workers prepare for and respond to coronavirus in the workplace.
OSHA Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19 – Developed in collaboration with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to help employers respond in the event of coronavirus in the workplace.
Temporary OSHA Guidance on Respiratory Protection Standard – This guidance provides suggestions and options to help increase the availability of N95 filtering facepiece respirators for healthcare providers.
COVID-19 Webpage – Provides infection prevention information specifically for employers and workers.
Wages, Hours and Leave – The Wage and Hour Division is providing 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.
Unemployment Insurance Flexibilities – NOTE: Check with your state’s unemployment insurance program regarding the rules in your state. The Employment and Training Administration announced new guidance outlining state flexibilities in administering their unemployment insurance programs to assist Americans affected by the COVID-19 outbreak.
Under the guidance, federal law permits significant flexibility for states to amend their laws to provide unemployment insurance benefits in multiple scenarios related to COVID-19. For example, federal law allows states to pay benefits where:
- An employer temporarily ceases operations due to COVID-19, preventing employees from coming to work;
- An individual is quarantined with the expectation of returning to work after the quarantine is over; and
- An individual leaves employment due to a risk of exposure or infection or to care for a family member.
In addition, federal law does not require an employee to quit in order to receive benefits due to the impact of COVID-19.
Job Corps Students – The Employment and Training Administration announced that it is initiating a break for students at all 121 Job Corps centers from March 16 through April 14, 2020. The spring break period may be extended beyond April 14, 2020.
Injured Federal Workers – The Office of Workers’ Compensation Programs has published guidance for federal employees outlining Federal Employees’ Compensation Act coverage as it relates to the novel coronavirus.
Federal Contractors – The Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs has issued a National Interest Exemption to facilitate response efforts for COVID-19.