Washington State Now Offers Expanded Unemployment Benefits: The CARES Act And Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA)
Posted Apr 13, 2020
By Washington State Business & Employment Law Lawyer Babak Shamsi
The COVID-19 pandemic has led to large scale unemployment throughout the nation. Washington State’s businesses and workers have been hit hard by the effects of this pandemic.
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Stability Act (CARES Act), which contains many provisions to help small businesses, including the Payroll Protection Program (PPP) discussed by Nicholas L. Jenkins here: https://beresfordlaw.com/what-you-should-know-about-the-payroll-protection-program/; as well as the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL), discussed here: https://beresfordlaw.com/more-information-about-the-economic-injury-disaster-loan/, also includes provisions to increase protections for workers. One of these protections is the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program, which expands both unemployment coverage and benefits available to workers.
The PUA, as instituted in Washington State, contains several important changes to the unemployment schema. Chiefly, the PUA:
- Expands unemployment eligibility to include individuals previously not covered, including self-employed individuals, independent contractors, and those who have not worked 680 hours as normally required;
- Pays an additional $600 per week to nearly everyone on unemployment from March 29 through week ending July 25; and
- Extends benefits by 13 weeks, for a maximum of 39 weeks, to cover both those newly eligible for unemployment and individuals already on unemployment. These additional 13 weeks are available until December 31, 2020.
Employers also receive assistance as: (1) their unemployment tax rate will not go up due to their employees using funds from the CARES Act; and (2) half of the bill from employees using standard unemployment benefits will be reimbursed by the federal government with respect to non-profits, governments, and reimbursable employers.
The state government is currently updating their system to address this new legislation, and has asked that those eligible for regular unemployment apply as quickly as possible, while those who can only receive coverage under the PUA’s expanded protections wait until after April 18th to apply.
Beresford Booth, PLLC continues to monitor the federal and state governments’ responses to the COVID-19 pandemic so that it may best serve its clients in these difficult times, and will continue to provide updates as the circumstances evolve.
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