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U.S. DOL Announces New Guidance To States On Unemployment Insurance Programs

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration has issued guidance that provides overarching implementation information about unemployment insurance (UI) provisions contained in the Continued Assistance for Unemployed Workers Act of 2020.

The guidance provides states with important information about several provisions of the law, including the extension of programs first authorized by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) earlier this year, as well as the creation of a new UI benefit for “mixed earners.”

The law extends the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program created by the CARES Act, which provides UI benefits to gig workers and others not traditionally eligible for them. Under the law, the end of the period of applicability for the PUA program extends to those weeks of unemployment ending on or before March 14, 2021. In states where the week of unemployment ends on a Sunday, the last payable week of PUA is the week ending March 14, 2021 (March 13 if weeks of unemployment end on Saturday). For individuals on PUA who have not exhausted their benefit eligibility of up to 50 weeks, the program also provides for continuing benefits for eligible individuals for weeks of unemployment through April 5, 2021. The law also strengthens documentation requirements to ensure PUA program integrity.

Additionally, the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation program (FPUC), which expired July 31, 2020, is reauthorized and modified to provide $300 per week to supplement benefits for weeks of unemployment beginning after December 26, 2020, and ending on or before March 14, 2021. FPUC is not payable with respect to any week during the gap in applicability, that is, weeks of unemployment ending after July 31, 2020, through weeks of unemployment ending on or before December 26, 2020.

The guidance released is in the format of an Unemployment Insurance Program Letter (UIPL – 09-21). It can be read in full at https://wdr.doleta.gov/directives/corr_doc.cfm?DOCN=3831.

The Department anticipates releasing further program-specific Unemployment Insurance Program Letters to states that will provide, in further detail, legal and programmatic guidance on certain provisions of the law, including:

  • Extended Benefits
  • Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation
  • Pandemic Unemployment Assistance
  • Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation
  • Merit Staffing Flexibilities
  • Mixed Earners Unemployment Compensation
  • Funding to address fraud

These UIPLs may be found at https://wdr.doleta.gov/directives/corr_list.cfm.