The Department of Unemployment Assistance recently issued a new emergency regulation related to unemployment assistance in light of the recent COVID-19 pandemic. The new emergency regulation, 430 CMR 22.00, extends special rules for eligibility for unemployment assistance for employees affected by the outbreak. For instance, the new regulation allows employees who are part of a “standby status,” which applies to both lay-offs and furloughs, to collect unemployment benefits during the period set by their employer for up to eight weeks. To be considered on “standby status” a claimant must have an expected return date to work. If a COVID-19 infection occurs at an employer’s place of business where the business operations are temporarily shut down for longer than eight weeks, the time an employee is eligible to collect unemployment may be extended. For COVID-19 related unemployment for claimants on “standby,” it is important to note that the claimant no longer has to search actively for work as long as they are available for all hours of “suitable work” their employer has offered. This emergency regulation is effective immediately for a 90-day period. There is also an additional proposed statute that hopes to waive the usual one week waiting period so claims will be processed more quickly. The department has indicated that it will be more flexible with deadlines. Employers who are also w-2 employees are eligible for assistance if their business is temporarily shut down. At this time, employees should click “layoff” on the form because there currently isn’t a selection for “standby status.”
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