On March 27, 2020, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf signed into law HB 68, implementing the following changes to the Commonwealth’s unemployment compensation program:
- The one-week waiting period after an employee loses a job before they can apply for unemployment benefits
- Work-search requirements for those receiving unemployment benefits
- For Employers:
- Automatic relief from benefit charges for employers, if the employee’s job loss is related to the COVID-19 outbreak and/or efforts to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Employers are not required to apply for this relief.
- For certain employers required to make payments, HB 68 increases the timeframe to repay benefits and allows for interest-free payment plans for employers experiencing a financial hardship.
CARES Act Pandemic Unemployment Assistance
The CARES ACT created the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), which extends unemployment benefits to those who are not generally eligible. PUA provides coverage for contractors, gig workers, individuals who are self-employed, and employees with religious organizations.
PUA benefits are still based on the claimants’ previous reported income, up to the state’s maximum of $572. Individuals receiving PUA benefits also will receive an additional $600 per week, provided under the CARES Act, between April 4, 2020 and July 25, 2020.
Pennsylvania claimants seeking benefits under the PUA program will have a separate application process. Although the PUA application only recently became available, claimants who are unemployed or unable to work due to reasons associated with COVID-19 can seek retroactive benefits dating back to January 27, 2020. An FAQ about Pennsylvania’s PUA program is available here.
The Pennsylvania Office of Unemployment Compensation posts regular updates on its “COVID-19 Guidance & Resources” page, which can be found here.
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