Emergency Rules Related to Provision of Unemployment Insurance

On March 19, 2020, in response to COVID-19, the Georgia Department of Labor (GDOL) passed numerous emergency rules, mandating that Georgia employers file partial unemployment claims on behalf of their eligible employees when they reduce their hours or temporarily shut down their operations. Any employer found to be in violation of this rule will be required to reimburse the GDOL for the full amount of unemployment insurance benefits paid to their eligible employees.

Therefore, employers that have employees who are eligible for partial unemployment benefits must file Form DOL-408 with the GDOL through its online portal. The GDOL provided further guidance, including:

  • Employers do not need to file claims for employees who are:
    • on leave due to scheduled/customary vacations, plant shut downs, or plant closures;
    • employed by a temporary agency;
    • employed in another state in the last 18 months;
    • receiving a 1099;
    • ovoluntarily out of work (e.g., resignations, requested leaves of absence, self-quarantined, etc.); or
    • permanently separated from the employer.
  • Claims must be filed for each pay period.
  • Employers must accurately report the employee’s name, social security number, and date of birth when filing a claim.
  • The GDOL will not accept claims filed prior to the week ending date.
  • Employers must report vacation pay, holiday pay, and/or earnings for the week in which it was earned – not during the week it was paid to employees.
  • Employers also must report any additional income employees are receiving, except Social Security benefits, jury duty income, and pay for weekend military reserve duty.

On March 26, the GDOL implemented two additional emergency rules. First, for claims filed on or after March 29, an otherwise eligible individual shall be paid the weekly benefit amount, less gross earnings in excess of $300. This was an increase from the previous minimum of $30-$50 per week (depending on the circumstances). In other words, only gross earnings from other work in excess of $300 will be deducted from the individual’s weekly benefit amount. Second, for claims filed on or before March 14, the GDOL extended the maximum benefits payable to an individual from 14 weeks to 26 weeks.

CARES Act and GDOL

According to the GDOL website, it is actively working on updating its current process in order to distribute the $600 federal unemployment funds through its existing online system.

As for the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program, the GDOL modified its online unemployment application by adding new questions to better identify those individuals who may be eligible for PUA. These individuals must first be determined to be ineligible for typical state benefits before being evaluated for federal PUA benefits. If so, the applicant will receive an email with instructions for filling out the PUA application. Detailed instructions on that application are available here.

Those who filed for unemployment before the PUA took effect, but who may now be eligible for the PUA program, do not need to refile a claim. The GDOL is working on identifying those individuals, and will communicate with those affected. 

Georgians are encouraged to apply online for benefits at https://www.dol.state.ga.us/static/uiben/ui-ruhere.htm.

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