The Delaware Department of Labor runs the state’s unemployment benefits program. The Department of Labor has posted guidance and issued a set of Frequently Asked Questions related to COVID-19 that can be found here.
Department of Labor Expanded Benefits
On March 16, 2020, Governor Carney issued an Executive Order authorizing the Secretary of Labor to develop emergency rules amending the Delaware Unemployment Insurance Code to enhance the flexibility of Delaware’s unemployment insurance program in response to COVID-19. Pursuant to that Order, the Delaware Department of Labor expanded unemployment benefits as follows:
- Workers are eligible to receive unemployment benefits if an employer needs to curtail or shut down operations temporarily because of the Governor’s State of Emergency declaration or the coronavirus outbreak.
- A worker who has been ordered by a medical doctor to self-quarantine as a result of, or due to risk of exposure to, COVID-19, is eligible to receive unemployment benefits.
- Parents or guardians who have been forced to quit or take unpaid leave from their jobs to care for children due to the Governor’s emergency closure of schools are eligible for benefits.
- Workers who have been forced to quit or take unpaid leave from their jobs to care for a loved one who has contracted COVID-19 are eligible for benefits.
- If a worker falls ill to COVID-19 and is unable to work, he or she is eligible for unemployment benefits.
- Part-time workers may be eligible for benefits.
- During the State of Emergency, Delaware has also temporarily waived the requirement that individuals must look for work in order to remain eligible for benefits.
- There is no longer a one-week waiting period for unemployment benefits.
CARES Act Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA)
Delaware was one of the first states to implement disbursement of the $600 weekly federal benefit to Delaware unemployment insurance recipients. Delaware began paying recipients the additional $600 per week during the week of April 5, 2020, one week after the passage of the CARES Act.
Additionally, for those individuals whose benefits will expire after April 19, 2020, the additional 13 weeks of unemployment benefits provided for in the CARES Act will commence automatically. Individuals who exhausted their unemployment benefits between July 1, 2019 and April 18, 2020, will need to apply for the 13 week extension on or after April 19, 2020.
Finally, the CARES Act provides for unemployment insurance benefits for independent contractors, individuals who are self-employed, and other individuals who would not normally be entitled to unemployment benefits under Delaware law. Guidance issued by the Delaware Department of Labor explains that in order to begin processing claims for this new category of eligible individuals, the federal government requires that states design new systems to pay benefits in order to prevent fraud, abuse, and identity theft. The Delaware Department of Labor further explained that it is working with a vendor to design a system to allow it to provide those benefits. On April 16, 2020, the Department of Labor stated that it anticipated the new system would be up and running within three to six weeks for these newly eligible individuals.
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