CARES Act Expands Unemployment Benefits

New Legislation includes temporary expansion of unemployment benefits for workers impacted by COVID-19.

On Friday, March 27, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, H.R. 748 became law. This stimulus package includes over $2 trillion in assistance and aid targeted toward individuals, small businesses, specific industries, and states dramatically impacted by COVID-19. 

The Unemployment team at Equifax Workforce Solutions noted that it specifically includes a substantial, temporary expansion of unemployment insurance benefits available for workers, including those who are self-employed and independent contractors.

Totaling $250 billion, the expanded benefits include an additional $600 per week in payments to workers for up to four months. The CARES Act also provides for an additional 13 weeks of unemployment benefits beyond what most states typically allow. As outlined by the Senate Committee on Finance, below are some specifics of the package related to unemployment insurance provisions:

Temporary Full Federal Funding of the First Week of Compensable Regular Unemployment for States with No Waiting Week

Provides funding to pay the cost of the first week of unemployment benefits through December 31, 2020 for states that choose to pay recipients as soon as they become unemployed, instead of waiting one week before the individual is eligible to receive benefits.

Pandemic Unemployment Assistance

Creates a temporary program for those not traditionally eligible for unemployment benefits  as a direct result of the coronavirus public health emergency. 

This includes:

  • Self-employed
  • Independent contractors
  • Those with limited work history

Emergency Unemployment Relief for Governmental Entities and Nonprofit OrganizationsProvides payment to states to reimburse nonprofits, government agencies and Indian tribes for half of the costs they incur through December 31, 2020 to pay unemployment benefits.

Temporary Financing of Short-Time Compensation Payments

Funding is available to support “short-time compensation” programs, where employers reduce employee hours instead of laying off workers. The employee with reduced hours would then receive a pro-rated unemployment benefit. This provision would pay 100 percent of the costs employers incur in providing this short-time compensation. 

These expanded unemployment benefits under the CARES Act will expire by December 31, 2020.  

Equifax has compiled a state-by-state summary of COVID-19 related changes to UC guidelines that is continually updated and available to employers. Should you have any questions or need assistance with your UC claims, Equifax customers may reach out to their Unemployment Insurance Consultant or Account Manager. Or contact a member of our Unemployment Solutions Sales team for additional information.