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CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC: Questions about Maryland Unemployment Benefits Answered

CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC: Questions about Maryland Unemployment Benefits Answered

If you need to apply for Maryland unemployment benefits because of the Coronavirus pandemic, the Maryland Department of Labor just issued important guidance about your rights for unemployment benefits needed because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The guidance is in the form of questions and answers and is expected to be updated regularly.

1. If my employer temporarily ceases operations due to COVID-19, preventing me from coming to work, am I eligible for benefits?
If you are laid off temporarily due to a business shutdown as a result of COVID-19, the Division of Unemployment Insurance recommends that you file a claim for unemployment insurance. After you file a claim for unemployment insurance benefits, the Division of Unemployment Insurance will determine whether you qualify to receive unemployment insurance benefits. You can apply for unemployment insurance benefits online or by phone between 7:30 a.m. - 3:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, at 410-949-0022 (within the Baltimore-metro area and out-of-state) or 800-827-4839 (from within Maryland).

2. If I am quarantined due to COVID-19 with the expectation of returning to work after the quarantine is over, am I eligible for benefits?
The first and best option for employees who need to miss work due to illness is to use their employer-paid time off. The Maryland Healthy Working Families Act requires employers with 15 or more employees to provide paid sick and safe leave for certain employees. Maryland employers who employ 14 or fewer employees are required to provide unpaid sick and safe leave for certain employees. Click to find more information about the Maryland Healthy Working Families Act.

“Unemployment” includes a reduction of both work hours and earnings. An individual receiving paid sick leave or paid family leave is still receiving pay and would generally not be considered “unemployed” for purposes of collecting unemployment insurance benefits.

If you are currently quarantined by a medical professional or under government direction, and your employer has instructed you not to return to work until the quarantine is over and has not provided the option to telework, the Division of Unemployment Insurance recommends that you file a claim for unemployment insurance. After you file a claim, the Division of Unemployment Insurance will determine whether you qualify to receive unemployment insurance benefits. You can apply for unemployment insurance benefits online or by phone between 7:30 a.m. - 3:30 p.m., Monday through Friday at 410-949-0022 (within the Baltimore-metro area and out-of-state) or 800-827-4839 (from within Maryland).

3. If I decide to leave my employment due to a reasonable risk of exposure or infection of COVID-19 or to care for a family member due to COVID-19, am I eligible for benefits?
If you are not exhibiting any symptoms of coronavirus, COVID-19, and you decide to leave your employment, the Division of Unemployment Insurance recommends that you file a claim for unemployment insurance. You may be determined to be eligible for benefits if the circumstances of your job separation are allowable under Maryland’s provisions for good cause and/or just circumstances for voluntarily leaving work, Section 8-1001 of Maryland Unemployment Insurance Law.

After you file a claim, the Division of Unemployment Insurance will determine whether you qualify to receive unemployment insurance benefits. You can apply for unemployment insurance benefits online or by phone between 7:30 a.m. - 3:30 p.m., Monday through Friday at 410-949-0022 (within the Baltimore-metro area and out-of-state) or 800-827-4839 (from within Maryland).

4. If I need to take time off work because I am sick, but I have not been quarantined by a medical professional or under government direction, will I be eligible for unemployment insurance benefits?
The first and best option for employees who need to miss work due to illness is to use their employer-paid time off. The Maryland Healthy Working Families Act requires employers with 15 or more employees to provide paid sick and safe leave for certain employees. Maryland employers who employ 14 or fewer employees are required to provide unpaid sick and safe leave for certain employees. Find more information about the Maryland Healthy Working Families Act.

If you are not eligible for employer paid time off or your paid time off has been exhausted, the Division of Unemployment Insurance recommends that you file a claim for unemployment insurance. You may be determined to be eligible for benefits if you have taken time off of work and expect to return work with the same employer in the future.

After you file a claim, the Division of Unemployment Insurance will determine whether you qualify to receive unemployment insurance benefits. You can apply for unemployment insurance benefits online or by phone between 7:30 a.m. - 3:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, at 410-949-0022 (within the Baltimore-metro area and out-of-state) or 800-827-4839 (from within Maryland).

5. If an employer lays off employees due to the loss of production caused by COVID-19, will the employees be eligible for unemployment insurance benefits?
Maryland unemployment benefits are available to individuals who are unemployed through no fault of their own. If an employer lays off employees due to a loss of production as a direct result of COVID-19, individuals may be eligible for unemployment benefits if they meet certain criteria. It is recommended that you file a claim for unemployment insurance. You can apply for unemployment insurance benefits online or by phone between 7:30 a.m. - 3:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, at 410-949-0022 (within the Baltimore-metro area and out-of-state) or 800-827-4839 (from within Maryland).

6. If my employer reduces my hours as a result of COVID-19, will I be eligible for unemployment insurance benefits?
If your employer has reduced your normal work hours as a result of COVID-19, you may be eligible for partial benefits. You can apply for unemployment insurance benefits online or by phone between 7:30 a.m. - 3:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, at 410-949-0022 (within the Baltimore-metro area and out-of-state) or 800-827-4839 (from within Maryland).

7. What if my employer goes out of business as a result of COVID-19?
If your employer goes out of business as a result of COVID-19, the Division of Unemployment Insurance recommends that you file a claim for unemployment insurance, as you are considered to be unemployed through no fault of your own. You can apply for unemployment insurance benefits online or by phone between 7:30 a.m. - 3:30 p.m., Monday through Friday at 410-949-0022 (within the Baltimore-metro area and out-of-state) or 800-827-4839 (from within Maryland).

8. Can I still collect unemployment benefits if I am able to work remotely from home?
If you continue to work your normal hours remotely, you do not meet the definition of an individual considered to be unemployed. However, if you work less than your normal hours remotely, it is recommended that you file a claim for unemployment insurance. You can apply for unemployment insurance benefits online or by phone between 7:30 a.m. - 3:30 p.m., Monday through Friday at 410-949-0022 (within the Baltimore-metro area and out-of-state) or 800-827-4839 (from within Maryland).

9. Am I required to search for work during this state of emergency?
The Division considers each claimant’s efforts in relation to the labor market conditions to determine if the search for work criteria under Section 8-903 of Maryland Unemployment Insurance Law has been satisfied. During this period of dramatically changing labor market conditions, the Division might not require claimants to search for jobs, but may instead require claimants to perform other reemployment activities, such as creating a resume, completing online classes and training courses, or completing other approved online tasks that prepare the claimant to become reemployed in a future, stabilized labor market.

Claimants are not required to search for work if their employer has temporarily laid off the claimant and has provided a return to work date that is less than 10 weeks in the future.

Employer-Specific Questions

10. If an employee or former employee receives unemployment benefits as a result of a coronavirus-related business shutdown, will the employer’s unemployment insurance taxes increase?
No employer will see an increase in their tax rate for 2020 due to the coronavirus, COVID-19. Unemployment insurance benefits are proportionately charged to each employer based on the employee’s earnings in their base period. Contributory employers may see an increase in their 2021 tax rate as a result of benefits paid due to COVID-19; however, tax rates are calculated based on benefits that have been charged to the employer account over the prior three (3) years, ending on June 30. Thus, any benefits paid due to coronavirus, COVID-19, from March to June will comprise four (4) months of the 36 months used to calculate the 2021 tax rate for employers.

In the event that a process for employers to apply for a waiver of charging of any benefits paid due to coronavirus, COVID-19, additional information will be provided outlining the requirements. Waivers will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis and approved as the law allows.

Employees must be on alert to safeguard their job protections at this difficult time. We at Lebau & Neuworth are available to listen to you and see if we can protect your job rights, including those under all laws pertaining to the Corona Virus pandemic. For more information, contact us 888-456-2529 or lebauneuworth.com/contact-us.

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