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New Procedures for Virginia Unemployment Benefits in Wake of COVID-19

The Virginia Employment Commission (VEC) recently issued new guidance regarding the availability of unemployment benefits during the COVID-19 pandemic. As businesses continue to face the possibility of limiting hours and staff, employers may be able to structure furloughs and reduced hours to maximize unemployment benefits to employees.

Employees can file for unemployment compensation benefits due to reduction in hours or loss of employment. For claims related to a reduction of hours, the claimant’s gross earnings for the week must be less than the weekly VEC benefit amount. The maximum weekly VEC benefit is $378. Depending on an employee’s earnings, the unemployment benefit amount may range from a minimum of $60 per week for 12 weeks to a maximum of $378 a week for 26 weeks. It is unclear at this time whether federal legislation will pass that increase the amount or duration of these benefits.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Governor Northam suspended the need to comply with a one week waiting period as well as the requirement for the claimant to submit evidence of a weekly job search for all claims filed on or after March 15, 2020. These changes will help ensure that laid off employees will be eligible to receive unemployment benefits sooner after filing a claim and will not have to worry about attempting a job search during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The VEC has also expanded the way that claims for benefits can be filed to minimize the need for in-person filing.

Employers and effected employees should regularly check the VEC’s website for updates on any changes that may occur on how claims are being processed (http://www.vec.virginia.gov/qa-coronavirus).

Please contact our Employment Team if you have any questions. Current as of March 20, 2020

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