The Epstein Becker Green Act Now Advisory, “The CARES Act: What Employers Need to Know (Part I),” co-authored by attorneys Garen E. Dodge, Sharon L. Lippett, Traycee Ellen Klein, John Houston Pope, and John D. Barry, was recently cited in SHRM, in “Gig Workers, Self-Employed Covered Under CARES Act,” by Roy Maurer.

Following is an excerpt:

An important component of the $2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act significantly expands unemployment insurance (UI) benefits for U.S. workers impacted by the coronavirus outbreak.

The legislation increases the amount of weekly unemployment assistance workers receive; extends how long they can receive it; and expands eligibility to nontraditional workers such as independent contractors, gig workers and the self-employed. …

Larger Checks for a Longer Time

Traditionally, unemployment benefits vary by state.

“Each state determines its own UI eligibility levels, benefit payments and duration of benefits, and there is a vast discrepancy among the states,” said Epstein Becker Green.

For example, the maximum weekly benefit payment in Connecticut is $631, while in Florida it’s $275, Epstein Becker Green said. The duration of benefits in Connecticut, New Jersey and New York is 26 weeks, while in Florida it’s 12 weeks.

Aid for Workers Typically Excluded

Notably, the legislation provides income support to many workers who are typically shut out of their state UI systems, including self-employed workers, independent contractors, freelancers, part-time workers and those with insufficient work histories to qualify for state UI benefits.

Furloughed employees and anyone who can’t report to work because the worksite has been ordered closed as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak will be covered under the expansion. Unemployment benefits will also be extended to people who:

  • Have been diagnosed with COVID-19 or have symptoms of it and are seeking diagnosis.
  • Are living with someone who has been diagnosed with COVID-19.
  • Are providing care for someone diagnosed with COVID-19.
  • Are providing care for a child who can’t attend school because it is closed due to COVID-19.
  • Are quarantined or have been advised to self-quarantine.
  • Had to quit their job as a direct result of COVID-19.

“The result is that many who historically could not obtain unemployment compensation are now eligible to receive up to 39 weeks of benefits fully funded by the federal government,” Epstein Becker Green said.

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