Rules Address COVID-Related Unemployment Claims

On June 3, the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment (CDLE) issued a new Emergency Rule formalizing several COVID-19-related unemployment issues. This Emergency Rule provides the CDLE with additional discretion to maximize benefits for individuals who lose work during declared economic crises and states of emergency. It also makes updates to the work search requirements for nontraditional workers newly eligible for unemployment benefits under the CARES Act.

On the flexibility front, Emergency Rule includes several provisions providing the CDLE with discretion to:

  • Waive the week waiting period to receive benefits during an economic crisis or state of emergency;
  • Extend the permissible time period for job attachment, and thus excuse a job attached worker from meeting the work search requirements to receive benefits, for up to 26 weeks during a time of economic recession;
  • Permit a period of job attachment to a claimant who loses work due to an economic crisis or state of emergency as declared by the governor; and
  • Waive the work search requirement for claimants entirely during an economic crisis or state of emergency declared by the governor.

For small business owners, gig workers, and others who were made eligible to receive benefits under the CARES Act, the Emergency Rule provides several concrete examples of activities that satisfy these workers’ obligation to seek work while receiving benefits. For business owners, qualifying activities include documented efforts to obtain new business clients, to expand into new products or services, or to market to new customers. Gig workers can satisfy the work search requirement by demonstrating that they have signed up to receive work on additional online platforms and other activities that demonstrate an active search for new employment.

In Arizona, the Department of Employment Services is temporarily suspending the “actively seeking work” requirement. What this means is that for the duration of the emergency declaration, an individual will no longer be required to look for work and apply for other employment while collecting unemployment insurance benefits.

In addition to these changes, the Emergency Rule clarifies that employees receiving benefits under other federal programs, such as the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, are not simultaneously eligible to receive unemployment benefits.

Utah is looking at this on a case by case basis. Work search requirements will be reviewed when a worker files a claim. They may be granted a work search deferral, meaning they will not be required to make the four new weekly job contacts.

If you have questions about how these changes affect your workplace, please contact an Employers Council attorney for additional clarification.