On January 14, 2021, New York State Department of Labor Commissioner Roberta Reardon issued an Order Regarding Unemployment Experience Rating Charges. In the Order, Commissioner Reardon utilized the authority granted to her under applicable federal and state law passed in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic to discontinue the charges to the unemployment accounts of employers when their ex-employees receive unemployment benefits from now until the end of the pandemic. The provisions of the Order apply to 100% of benefits attributable to employers liable for contributions and to 50% of benefits attributable to employers liable for payments in lieu of contributions. The Order also applies retroactively and cancels any charges covered by the Order and previously applied to an employer’s account. The Order is certainly good news for employers, and they should continue to monitor any further communications from the Department of Labor regarding how the Order will be implemented.
Later that same week, on January 18, 2021, the Department of Labor issued a new rule that will benefit Unemployment Claimants who work part-time because of job loss or reduction likely caused by the pandemic. The new rule will apply to some of those who work part-time who are able to collect regular Unemployment Insurance and Pandemic Unemployment Assistance benefits. The focus of the new rule will be “hours-based,” as opposed to the current “days-based” approach that sometimes deprived benefits to part-time employees who worked less hours (over more days) than others who did receive benefits. As before, though, employees still must work less than 30 total hours and earn less than $504 in gross pay during the week in order to collect benefits. The hours worked (with partial hours rounded up) will apply as follows:
4 or fewer hours of work = 0 days worked: no reduction in weekly benefit week
5-10 hours of work = 1 days worked: 75% of weekly benefit rate
11-20 hours of work = 2 days worked: 50% of weekly benefit rate
21-30 hours of work = 3 days worked: 25% of weekly benefit rate
31+ hours of work = 4 days worked: 0% of weekly benefit rate
Claimants will be able to get assistance from the Department of Labor phone system or website in submitting their paperwork.