Dear World Floor Covering Association Member,
Most of the focus regarding the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act has been on the Payroll Protection Program (PPP) loans and the COVID-19 Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) with its initial $10,000 payment. The CARES Act also includes three main provisions that increase and expand unemployment benefits: (1) Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC); (2) the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) program; and (3) Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA). These provisions may provide unemployment benefits to flooring retailer owners, contractors, and installers.
1. Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC)
The PEUC program extends unemployment insurance for an extra 13 weeks of unemployment benefits. Most states offer 26 weeks of unemployment benefits. As a result, an individual eligible for unemployment benefits will be entitled to 39 weeks. The 13 weeks of unemployment benefits will be available even if an individual already exhausted their regular benefits. The individual will just need to reapply. The CARES Act also includes a “non-reduction” rule that prevents states from decreasing the maximum number of weeks of unemployment insurance or the weekly benefits available under state law as of Jan. 1, 2020.
PEUC also alters the normal requirement that the individual seeking unemployment benefits is ” able to work, available to work, and actively seeking work.” The PEUC requires state to be flexible on the “actively seeking work” if an applicant’s ability to find work is affected by COVID-19, including because of illness, quarantine, or movement restriction.” Individual states run unemployment programs, so each state will have guidance on how to extend benefits through this program.
2. Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) Program
The FPUC Program provides for an additional $600 a week of unemployment benefits on top of what is the weekly payment under state programs. The additional $600 applies to all the weeks of unemployment, including the 13-week extension under PEUC.
3. Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA)
The PUA may be the most important provision regarding unemployment for flooring retailer owners, contractors, and installers. This provision expands unemployment benefits for individuals who are “not eligible for regular compensation or extended benefits.” The Department of Labor (DOL), which oversees these programs, defines “covered individual” under PUA as:
Covered individuals also include self-employed, those seeking part-time employment, individuals lacking sufficient work history, and those who otherwise do not qualify for regular unemployment compensation or extended benefits under state or Federal law or PEUC.
This means that members of WFCA that are sole proprietors, a partner in a partnership, and an owner of an LLC are eligible for unemployment—they are all considered self-employed.
It may be more complicated for members that are S or C corporations. A shareholder in an S or C corporation who works in the business is considered an employee, not self-employed. Like any other employee, they are entitled to receive employee benefits, including unemployment compensation. This applies as long as the company reports the owner as an employee and pays state unemployment insurance taxes on their wages. If it is determined that they are not entitled to regular unemployment, they may also not be considered individuals who are “not eligible for regular compensation or extended benefit” and thus eligible under PUA to receive unemployment benefits.
To be eligible for PUA benefits, the individual will need to certify that they are not working for one of the following reasons:
• The individual has been diagnosed with COVID-19 or is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and is seeking a medical diagnosis;
• A member of the individual’s household has been diagnosed with COVID-19;
• The individual is providing care for a family member or a member of the individual’s household who has been diagnosed with COVID-19;
• A child or other person in the household for which the individual has primary caregiving responsibility is unable to attend school or another facility that is closed as a direct result of the COVID-19 public health emergency and such school or facility care is required for the individual to work;
• The individual is unable to reach the place of employment because of a quarantine imposed as a direct result of the COVID-19 public health emergency;
• The individual is unable to reach the place of employment because the individual has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine due to concerns related to COVID-19;
• The individual was scheduled to commence employment and does not have a job or is unable to reach the job as a direct result of the COVID-19 public health emergency;
• The individual has become the breadwinner or major support for a household because the head of the household has died as a direct result of COVID-19;
• The individual has to quit his or her job as a direct result of COVID-19; or
• The individual’s place of employment is closed as a direct result of the COVID-19 public health emergency.
If eligible for unemployment under PUA, the individual should receive up to the state allowed weeks of unemployment benefits (usually 26 weeks), plus the 13 weeks of extended benefits under PEUC, and the extra $600 a week under the FPUC program.
The bottom line is that anyone who cannot work because of the COVID-19 pandemic should apply for unemployment benefits. Each state will determine the individual’s eligibility, and the requirements can vary from state-to-state.
To determine who to contact and apply for unemployment benefits in your state, go to:
https://www.dol.gov/coronavirus/unemployment-insurance#find-state-unemployment-insurance-contacts. This will provide the needed information.
If you have any questions or need additional information, please contact our legal counsel, Jeffrey King, at mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org or our lobbyist, Max Perkins at email@example.com.
The WFCA Team