Last week the Pennsylvania legislature passed an Act amending Pennsylvania’s Unemployment Compensation Law. Effective immediately, all employers must provide notice related to the availability of unemployment compensation to an employee at the time of their “separation from employment.” The term separation from employment is not defined by the Act, however it may be read broadly to refer to any termination, layoff, temporary layoff, furlough, or reduction in hours. The notice must include information regarding the: (1) availability of unemployment compensation benefits; (2) employee’s ability to file an unemployment compensation claim in the first week that employment ends or hours are reduced; (3) availability of assistance or information on the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry’s website or toll-free number; and (4) employee information required to file an unemployment compensation claim. This is a permanent change to Pennsylvania’s Unemployment Compensation Law. The Act does not specify the penalty for non-compliance with the notice requirements.
The Act also provides “Emergency Provisions Related To COVID-19.” For the duration of the Governor’s Proclamation of Disaster Emergency issued on March 6, 2020, the Act provides assistance to employers by automatically relieving employers from benefit charges if a claimant’s unemployment is related to the COVID-19 outbreak or efforts to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Additionally, for the duration of the disaster emergency proclamation, the Act waives certain unemployment compensation eligibility requirements for claimants whose unemployment is related to the COVID-19 outbreak or efforts to prevent the spread of COVID-19, including the one-week waiting period to receive benefits and job search and registration requirements. The Emergency Provisions Related to COVID-19 will expire January 1, 2021.
The federal CARES Act, which was also signed into law last week, increases the amount of unemployment compensation benefits available to claimants by $600/week through July 31, 2020, expands the overall limit of benefits from 26 weeks to 39 weeks, and allows those who would not typically qualify for benefits — the self-employed, those seeking part-time work, and those with insufficient work history — to obtain benefits. For more information on the federal CARES Act, click here.