Frequently Asked Questions

General Unemployment Insurance Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) 

 Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) Return to Work

 

 Are there any important dates that I should be aware of regarding my benefits?

Yes. Here are some important dates that all claimants should be aware of:

  • Week ending March 21: First week that people can file a claim for PUA benefit
  • Week ending April 4:  First week that eligible claimants (both UI and PUA) receive the additional $600 payment (FPUC)

*Keep in mind the dates above if filing back-claims, as benefit amounts will only be provided retroactively to dates list

  • Week ending July 25 – Last week eligible claimants (both UI and PUA) will receive additional $600 payment (FPUC)
  • Week ending December 26 – Last week to file a claim for PUA or PEUC benefits

General Unemployment Insurance 

ELIGIBILITY  CLAIMS  PAYMENTS  OTHER

ELIGIBILITY

Am I eligible for unemployment benefits?

Eligibility requirements for unemployment benefits are expanded as a result of COVID-19 to include the following areas:

You may be eligible if you were laid-off due to:

  • Your employer ceasing operations for a COVID-19 related reason
  • A direct result of an order issued by the Governor or President
  • Employees own COVID-19 related isolation/quarantine

You may be eligible if you left employment due to:

  • Being sick or isolated as the result of COVID-19
  • An unreasonable risk of exposure at your place of employment
  • Caring for a family member who is sick or isolated as the result of COVID-19
  • Caring for a family member who had an unreasonable risk of exposure at their place of employment
  • Needing to care for a child who has had their school or childcare center closed

What if I am asked by a medical professional or public health official to quarantine as a result of COVID-19, but I am not sick?

You may be eligible for unemployment benefits if you meet the following criteria:

  • You are following the guidance of a medical health professional or public health official to self-isolate or quarantine due to COVID-19 exposure
  • You are not receiving paid sick leave or other types of leave from your employer

What if my employer has closed, either as a precautionary measure or because an employee is sick, and other employees have been asked to self-isolate or quarantine as a result of COVID-19? Am I eligible for unemployment benefits?

If you are not receiving compensation from your employer, such as paid sick leave or paid time off, you may be eligible for unemployment benefits during this period.

If I become seriously ill and am forced to quit my job as a result of COVID-19, will I qualify for unemployment benefits?

Yes. Eligibility requirements for unemployment benefits are expanded to include individuals who are sick or isolating as a result of COVID-19.

What if I need to leave my job to care for a family member as a result of COVID-19?

If you leave work to care for a family member, you are now likely eligible for unemployment benefits.

My employer closed because of COVID-19, am I eligible?

If your employer closed because of COVID-19, you may be eligible for regular unemployment or Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA).

My employer reduced my hours because of COVID-19, am I eligible?

 If your employer reduced your hours because of COVID-19, you may be eligible for unemployment benefits.

What if my workplace is closed but I am working from home, am I eligible?

 If your workplace is closed to the public, but you are working remotely, with no decrease in wages, you are not eligible for unemployment.

My employer asked me to come back to work but I do not feel safe going back. Can I not go back to work and keep filing for unemployment?

Failure to accept work when you are able and available will disqualify you for unemployment benefits.

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CLAIM RELATED QUESTIONS

I have received a “monetary determination,” what is this and what does it mean?

Your monetary determination is calculated based on the wages within the last 4 quarters. The monetary determination you receive is the state benefit amount and does not reflect the additional $600 federal benefit added from the CARES Act. The $600 will be reflected in your electronic funds transfer or paper check.

Do I file a new claim if I have filed for unemployment in the past year and returned to work?

If you have had an open claim within the last 12 months, you do not need to reapply for unemployment. You can reopen your claim by logging back into the online claimant portal or by calling the automated weekly claims line. 1-800-983-2300 (automated line hours: 24 hours Sun, 5am-4:30pm M-F)

What if my claim expired?

If your claim has expired, you will be eligible for extended benefits which provides an additional 13 weeks of benefits. The extended benefits program is in development. The Department will announce when the program is live.

I forgot to file my weekly claim last week. What do I do?

If you forgot to submit a weekly claim for a past week, you can call the automated weekly filing line at 1-800-983-2300 or log into the online claimant portal and file a claim for a back week. You can only file one back week per day. You will receive a message on the confirmation page notifying you of when you can log back into the claimant portal to file another missed filing. After you are caught up, you will need to continue to file a weekly claim each week between Sunday and Friday at 4:00 p.m.

My claim says it is being adjudicated. What does this mean?

Claims in adjudication require further review by the Department to determine eligibility. Some of the most common include, failure to report wages for one or two days worked. (E.g. if you worked Monday – Wednesday and were laid off Thursday, you would need to report wages for Monday – Wednesday). The Department will notify you when the adjudication is complete.

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PAYMENT QUESTIONS

Why didn’t I get the extra $600 in my weekly benefit?

The federal CARES Act additional $600 benefit went into effect for the benefit week ending 4/4/20. Any prior benefits paid only included the weekly benefit amount.

Why didn’t I receive the full $600 benefit?

When you completed your initial application, if you opted to have taxes withheld from your weekly benefit amount, taxes will be withheld from your federal $600 benefit as well. All benefits are subject to state and federal taxes.

How long can I get benefits for?

You can receive unemployment insurance benefits for 26 weeks and extended benefits for 13 weeks.

When will I get paid?

If you submit your weekly claims consistently and do not have any issues on your claim, you can expect pay on a weekly basis.

I submitted my application for unemployment and have not received any money. Why?

After you submit your initial application, you need to continue to submit unemployment claims for each week you are unemployed. Each weekly claim certifies that you were unemployed for the previous week. If you do not file weekly claims, the system assumes that you have gone back to work and will stop issuing benefits.

I applied for unemployment, have been submitting my weekly claims, and have not received any money. Not even the $1200 check. Why is that?

If you have not received any unemployment benefits yet, including the $1200 pre-payment check, your claim has an issue on it that requires the Department to research further to make an eligibility determination. This may be due to the Department having to gather information from another state, earnings issues, and others. The Department will notify you when the adjudication process is complete.

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OTHER UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE QUESTIONS

I am returning to work. Do I need to do anything to notify the Department of Labor?

If you are returning to work, you do not need to notify the Department at this time. You simply should stop filing your weekly claims. If you file for a week you are fully employed, that is fraudulent activity and you will be denied benefits.  If you work and perform work during a week in which you are filing for UI benefits, you must report the hours worked and wages earned. 

My claim has been in adjudication for a few weeks now. Is there a timeline for when I will receive a determination?

If your claim is in adjudication, it will be adjudicated in the order it was received.

How do I reset my PIN?

If you need your PIN reset, you will need to contact either the Claimant Assistance Line at  1-877-214-3332, or the  supplemental phone line at 888-807-7072. This can only be done over the phone. 

I was already on unemployment before COVID-19, do I still need to be looking for work?

No. All work search requirements have been waived as result of COVID-19. The Department will notify claimants when work search requirements are reinstated.

My return to work date has passed. I don’t know when I will be going back to work, so how do I update that?

At this time, you do not need to update your return to work date. The Department will announce any changes to this process.

Why am I getting ‘SSN not found’ when filing my weekly claim?

You are likely experiencing SSN not found for one of the following reasons:

  • Your initial claim is still processing. It can take up to 72 business hours from the time you submit your initial claim for it to be uploaded into the system.
  • You are attempting to file a claim too early or too late. The weekly claim filing window begins each Sunday until Friday at 4:00 p.m.
  • Your claim is being adjudicated. If there is an issue on your claim, it has been assigned to an adjudicator. Until your claim has been adjudicated, you will not be able to access the online claimant portal.

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PANDEMIC UNEMPLOYMENT ASSISTANCE

GENERAL ELIGIBILITY PAYMENTS 

APPLY DOCUMENTS

GENERAL PUA QUESTIONS

I am trying to call the assistance line and it will not let me wait on hold, it just hangs up. How can I get through? 

If you call the PUA line and get the message that all representatives are busy, it is because the lines are busy, and the queue is full. Please read through the FAQs to help resolve questions before calling back again

What does it mean if I’m not eligible for regular unemployment, but my information isn’t in PUA yet?

If you are not eligible for regular unemployment, your application is being reviewed by the Department to determine your PUA eligibility.  After a determination is made, you will receive a notification from the Department with an eligibility determination. If you are eligible, you will be able to complete your PUA application and begin filing weekly claim certifications. 

When can I apply for PUA?

You must apply for regular unemployment insurance benefits first to determine whether you are eligible for regular unemployment benefits or PUA benefits. If you haven’t yet applied for regular unemployment, click here. Depending on your application submission, you may be immediately prompted to complete the PUA claim application. If you do not get prompted, you will need to wait for DOL to review your submission. Once a determination has been made, you will be notified. 

I have exhausted my regular UI benefits, should I apply for PUA or what do I do?

If you have exhausted your 26 weeks of regular unemployment insurance benefits and are trying to begin using the additional 13 weeks of Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Assistance (PEUC), you should not try to apply for PUA. You will likely receive an error message if you do try to apply because you already have an established unemployment claim. There is nothing you need to do until the PEUC program is implemented. 

What weeks will PUA cover?

PUA provides wage replacement for eligible claimants back to the week of March 15, 2020, when Governor Scott’s Executive Order went into effect

What if my claim for regular UI benefits has been denied and I get an error message when I try to proceed to apply for PUA benefits?

If you were denied for regular unemployment benefits it does not impact your eligibility for PUA benefits. Your application is under review and the Department of Labor will notify you if you are eligible to apply for PUA. 

When I try to complete my PUA application, it says my record does not exist and that I need to complete the regular unemployment application. And when I try to complete the regular unemployment application it says I already exist. What do I do?

If you have followed all the steps in applying for PUA (including filling out the initial unemployment application first) and are receiving an error message when trying to verify their information in PUA, this means your UI application requires further review by the Department. You will not be able to complete the PUA application until that review is complete. The Department will notify you of your eligibility. 

My claim is in adjudications. What does this mean?

If your claim is being adjudicated, there is an issue on your claim that requires the Department to investigate the issue further. This process was initiated based on your responses in your initial unemployment application.  Your claim will be processed in the order in which it was received.

I am returning to work. Do I need to do anything to notify the Department of Labor?

If you are returning to work, you do not need to notify the Department at this time. You simply should stop filing your weekly claims. If you file for a week you are fully employed, that is fraudulent activity and you will be denied benefits.  If you work and perform work during a week in which you are filing for UI benefits, you must report the hours worked and wages earned.

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PUA ELIGIBILITY

How do I know if I am eligible for PUA?

If you are an independent contractor, are self-employed, have been denied or are not eligible for regular unemployment benefits or FPEUC (extended benefits program), you may be eligible for PUA benefits. 

What circumstances disqualify me from PUA?

If you are able to telework with pay or are receiving paid sick leave or any other form of paid leave you will not qualify for PUA.

How much money do I need to earn to qualify for PUA benefits?

You must have earned at least $2,871 in the highest paid quarter of the base period. In the other three quarters of the base period, you must have earned at least 40% of what you earned during the highest paid quarter. Otherwise, you qualify for the minimum benefit amount.

MORE ON SELF EMPLOYED

How do I know if I am self-employed?

Federal guidelines for PUA identify “self-employed” individuals as those whose primary reliance for income is on the performance of services in their own business. This also includes independent contractors and others. 

I’m self-employed now, but I worked for an employer in 2019. Where do I apply?

If you earned more than $4,025 in calendar year 2019 from an employer (or employers) who took taxes out of your paycheck, you may be eligible for regular unemployment benefits. The first step in determining your eligibility is to complete the initial unemployment application which will determine whether you are eligible for regular unemployment insurance or PUA. 

If I live in Vermont and am self-employed in another state, where should I file for PUA benefits?

You must file with the state where you were working at the time of becoming unemployed, partially unemployed or unable to work because of a COVID-19 related reason listed in section 2102(a)(3)(A)(ii)(I) of the CARES Act. If you worked in more than one state during this time, you may file in any of those states.

I earn most of my income through my full-time job, but I also own my own business. Am I considered self-employed for PUA benefit purposes?

No. PUA Federal guidelines define an individual as self-employed when the individual’s primary income is through services in the individual’s own business.

CASES OF ELIGIBILITY

Am I eligible for PUA if I have never worked before or it has been a long time since I worked last?

You may be eligible for PUA if:

  • You were scheduled to begin working and do not have a job currently or are unable to begin that job as a direct result of COVID-19
  • Your job offer was rescinded because of COVID-19
  • You have become the breadwinner or primary supporter for a household because the head of household has died as a direct result of COVID-19

I’m a dairy farmer. Am I eligible for PUA?

Yes, farmers are likely eligible for PUA and must start by submitting an initial unemployment application.

Am I eligible for PUA if my work allows me to telework for pay?

No. If you can telework and are being be paid by your employer, you are not eligible for PUA.

Am I eligible for PUA benefits if I am not working but I am receiving paid sick leave or another form of paid leave from my employer?

You may be. If you are a receiving partial payment for sick leave, you may be eligible for a reduced weekly benefit amount (WBA). If your paid leave amount is greater than your WBA, you will not be eligible. 

Can I receive PUA benefits if I am still working but my hours are reduced?

If you are working fewer hours due to COVID-19 and have lost income, you should apply for unemployment insurance benefits. Your eligibility for regular unemployment or PUA will be determined after you apply.

I worked full-time and was laid off. But I also own a side business that is closed due to COVID-19, am I eligible for PUA?

If you were laid off from full-time employment you are likely eligible for regular unemployment. If you are already collecting regular unemployment, you cannot apply for or receive PUA benefits on top of that. 

If I am on approved unpaid medical leave from my employer, and I’m not eligible for state unemployment because I am not able or available to work, am I eligible for PUA?

It depends. If the medical leave is based on one of the COVID-19 related reason listed in section 2102(a)(3)(A)(ii)(I) of the CARES Act, you may be eligible for PUA benefits. If your situation is not covered in one of the COVID-19 related reasons and are otherwise not able to work or available for work, you are not eligible for PUA.

NOT ELIGIBLE

I applied for regular unemployment benefits and my claim is in adjudications and I have not heard back. Can I also apply for PUA?

No. You cannot apply for PUA if you have a current application that is being processed through regular unemployment adjudication. If you are denied regular unemployment insurance benefits, you may be eligible for PUA but cannot apply for PUA until that determination has been made. 

If I refuse to return to work when called back by my employer because I want to receive general unemployment benefits, am I eligible for PUA? 

No. If you refused suitable work in order to file for unemployment benefits, you would not qualify for PUA. For more information, go to https://labor.vermont.gov/unemployment-insurance/refusal-return-work-cov...

I am eligible for regular unemployment but not collecting payments due to a 100 percent offset. Am I eligible for PUA?

No. In this case, you are eligible to collect regular unemployment and are deemed to be receiving payments even when they are used to reduce an existing overpayment. You cannot be eligible for regular unemployment and PUA. 

My claim says it’s in overpayment and I’m not receiving the federal $600 benefit?

If your claim is in overpayment, the Department needs to manually update your claim to allow you to collect the $600 federal benefit. We are actively working on these claims. You should continue to file your weekly claims and as soon as your claim has been updated, payments will begin to be issued. Please note, your weekly benefit amount will still be withheld to offset your overpayment balance.

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PUA APPLICATION QUESTIONS

What happens if I complete my initial application for unemployment insurance benefits and receive a $0 monetary determination? Do I need to reapply for PUA?

If you are monetarily ineligible for regular unemployment, you may be eligible for PUA. After your application review is complete, the Department will notify you if you can complete the PUA application.

Can I stop and resume in the middle of my PUA application?   

Yes. If you do not know how to answer a question, or need to stop and get more information, you can pause and go back at a later time. 

How do I correct my application or weekly claim certification if I accidentally answered a question or entered the wrong information?

You are able to change your phone number, mailing address, and payment method, as well as uploading tax documents, when completing your weekly claim certification. You cannot change answers on your application at this time. Some answers to questions require claims to go through the adjudication process.

The application says my bank account number is not valid. What do I do?

If your bank account number begins or ends with a zero, there is a glitch in the system that will not accept those account numbers. While we work to fix this issue, you can opt for a check to be mailed to you. Once this is fixed, you can update your payment information the next time you complete your weekly claim certification.

I tried logging in to complete my PUA application and I need to reset my password, but I never got an email to reset it?

If you receive this error, please try to reset it again as the issue has been resolved as of 4/24/20. If you are trying to log in to file your weekly claims for regular unemployment using your PIN, you are not able to log in because that is a separate portal.

What happens if I provide false or misleading information to get PUA benefits?

Providing false or misleading information to obtain benefits is fraud. If you are found to have committed fraud, you are subject to penalties and/or criminal prosecution.

I followed the instructions to complete my PUA application. I get "Ineligible Claim. Your Pandemic Unemployment Assistance claim has been determined as ineligible for receiving any future benefits. If you have any questions, please contact the Vermont Department of Labor at (877) 660-7782.” What do I do?

If you received this email, it is because based on your answers to the questions asked, you were determined ineligible for PUA.  

I completed my PUA application and entered the wrong bank account information. How do I fix it?

If you need to update your bank account information you can change the payment method when filing your weekly claim certification.

I was deemed ineligible and I want to appeal the decision. What do I do?

If you received an ineligible determination, you are not eligible for PUA. If you feel this is incorrect, you may file an appeal by faxing the Appeals Unit at 802-828-4289 or mailing your appeal to the Department of Labor at P.O. Box 488, Montpelier, VT 05601-0488. In your appeal, please include: your name, the company name, and the name and date of the document being appealed. Once your request for an appeal has been processed, you will be notified in writing of the date and time of a scheduled hearing. 

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PUA REQUIRED TAX DOCUMENTATION AND WAGE QUESTIONS

I have to upload tax documents within 21 days. What does this mean? If I don’t, what happens?

When you submit your PUA application, you are required to enter quarterly wage earnings and weekly earnings. If you upload valid supporting tax documents, you will receive the full weekly benefit amount calculated based on the wages and earnings you report and attest to the accuracy of.

At any point during the 21-day period from submitting your PUA claim, you may upload supporting tax documents and your benefit will be adjusted from the minimum ($191) to the calculated weekly benefit amount based on your earnings.

If you do not upload tax documents at all, you will receive the minimum benefit amount of $191.

When reporting wages on the PUA application, do I use gross or net wages?

Self-employed individuals must use their NET wages. Others who are not self-employed must report GROSS wages.  

What if I am paid on a commission or sales basis, not salary or hourly?

If you are paid by sales or commission, you can enter your wages in either the salary or hourly field, as long as they equal to the overall wages earned in the quarter.  

What tax documents are acceptable to upload?

  • Schedule C, Schedule E, Schedule F: if you are a self-employed individual or sole proprietor that files a Schedule C, Schedule E or Schedule F, with your income taxes.
  • 1040: If you are using your 1040 income tax return, report line 1 wages from your income tax return (this excludes any pension or social security income)
  • W2: if you are using a W2 tax document to report wages, report the wages included in box 1 on the w2 statement

What if I have not filed my 2019 taxes yet?

If you have not filed your 2019 taxes yet, you have 21 days to do so. However, until you upload a supporting document, you many only receive the minimum benefit amount.

Why do I need to upload 2019 tax documents if the deadline to file taxes is not until July 15?

Tax documentation for 2019 is required because your benefit amount is based on wages in the last 4 quarters. Providing 2019 wages will determine the most accurate weekly benefit amount. If you are determined to be eligible for benefits, and do not provide documentation within 21 days, you will only receive the minimum benefit amount until you upload those documents. You have 21 days from completing your initial PUA application to upload those documents.

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PUA PAYMENT QUESTIONS

Why can I only file my claim back to the week ending 3/21? I haven’t been working since 3/1?

The Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program allows claimants to file weekly claims back to the date of separation or the benefit week ending 3/21, whichever was later.

Is there a waiting period before I will get my first benefit check?

No, there is not a minimum waiting period. However, depending on your weekly claim certification, it may take time to review or adjudicate your claim. 

I am self-employed, but I also have a part-time job working for another employer. What will my weekly benefit amount be?

If you establish your PUA claim as a self-employed individual, then wages from your self-employment will only be calculated into your weekly benefit amount. If you continue to work part-time you must report wages and hours worked during each weekly claim certification.

Am I eligible for the $600/week federal benefit that other UI claimants are getting?

Yes. If you are eligible for PUA you are also eligible for the $600/week benefit. You do not need to do anything additional it will automatically be included in your weekly benefit payment.

Will the $600/week payment be in a separate payment or the same?

The additional $600 federal benefit will be reflected in the same direct deposit or check as your weekly benefit. The federal benefit is subject to both state and federal taxes. If you opted to have taxes withheld, that will be reflected in your payment amount. If you did not, you will be required to report that when filing your 2020 income taxes.

Why didn’t I get the extra $600 in my weekly benefit?

The federal CARES Act additional $600 benefit went into effect for the benefit week ending 4/4/20. Any prior benefits paid only included the weekly benefit amount.

I recieved a benefit, but why wasn't it the full $600?

When you completed your initial application, if you opted to have taxes withheld from your weekly benefit amount, taxes will be withheld from your federal $600 benefit as well. All benefits are subject to state and federal taxes.

Do I need to keep filing to get weekly payments?

Yes. You need to file each week for which you wish to receive PUA benefits. 

  • You are filing weekly claims for the prior week. (e.g. If you file a weekly claim April 12, you are filing for the benefit week of April 5-11.) When you do this, you are certifying you were unemployed or partially unemployed that week. 
  • You must file a weekly claim no later than Friday at 4:00 pm. (e.g., If you were unemployed during the week of April 5-11, you can file the claim beginning April 12, but no later than April 17 at 4pm).
  • You MUST report hours worked and wages EARNED (regardless of when you will be paid) if you worked during a week for which you are filing a benefit. Failing to do so will create an issue on your claim, delay payment, or could potentially disqualify you from receiving benefits.

Will I have to pay federal and state taxes on benefits I receive?

Yes. When filing, you have the option to have taxes withheld or not, but all benefits are subject to state and federal taxes. 

When will I get paid?

After you complete the initial unemployment application, the PUA application, and have filed your first weekly claim certification, your payment will be processed within 3 business days. You can choose a payment method of direct deposit or paper check (direct deposit is the quicker method).

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PANDEMIC EMERGENCY UNEMPLOYMENT COMPENSATION

What is PEUC? 

PEUC stands for Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation.  This program offers an additional 13 weeks of UI benefits to eligible individuals. 

Who is eligible for PEUC? 

​You are eligible for PEUC if: 

  • You exhausted your regular state or federal benefits, or your benefit year has expired without requalifying for a new benefit year, after July 1, 2019; 
  • You are not currently eligible for state or federal unemployment benefits; and 
  • You are able and available to work and actively seeking work, except in instances where COVID-19 has made it not possible, including illness, quarantine, or "stay at home" orders. 
  • The individual seeking PEUC cannot otherwise have rights to benefits under state or federal law; 
  • The individual cannot be receiving benefits from Canada.   

​How do I know if I exhausted my benefits? 

​You have exhausted your benefits when: 

  • You are not eligible for regular UI benefits because you have received the maximum amount of these benefits available to you based on your employment or wages during your base period; OR 
  • Your benefit year expired on or after July 1, 2019 and you are not able to requalify for a new benefit year. 

​How do I file for PEUC? 

​If you currently have an open UI claim, there is nothing for you to do other than continue filing your weekly claim.  You cannot apply for any UI programs in advance, so you must wait for the week after your benefits are exhausted to apply for PEUC. 

If you have exhausted the maximum amount of regular UI available to you and are unable to file a new claim until your current benefit year expires, you will be eligible for up to 13 weeks of additional benefits through the PEUC program.  You will receive a notice from the Department indicating that you have been identified as PEUC eligible. 

If you remain totally or partially unemployed when your benefit year ends, you must file a new application for regular UI before your PEUC application can be considered.  Instructions on how to apply for PEUC online will be posted at labor.vermont.gov. 

What is the maximum number of weeks an individual can receive PEUC? 

An individual will be able to receive PEUC for up to 13 weeks of additional unemployment benefits. 

How long will PEUC be available? 

​PEUC is available beginning the week ending April 4, 2020 through the week ending December 26, 2020.  Keep in mind an individual is only eligible for 13 additional weeks within this period. 

How much is the PEUC weekly benefit amount? 

​Your PEUC weekly benefit amount is the same as your weekly benefit amount under the regular UI Program. The PEUC weekly benefit would be in addition to the $600 FPUC weekly benefit, which is available for the period of March 29-July 31, 2020.   

​I heard everyone collecting UI gets an extra $600 a week.  Will I get that through PEUC? 

​Yes.  All individuals collecting any type of UI, including PEUC, will receive $600 per week from the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) Program, in addition to their weekly benefits as calculated.  FPUC payments began the week ending April 4, 2020 and will end with the week ending July 25, 2020.  These payments will be backdated for eligible individuals. 

​I filed a new UI claim recently.  Am I eligible for PEUC? 

​In general, individuals collecting regular UI are eligible for 26 weeks of benefits.  If you are still unemployed after 26 weeks, you may be eligible for up to 13 additional weeks of benefits through PEUC. 

​I exhausted my benefits before July 1, 2019 and have not worked since then.  Am I eligible for PEUC? 

​No.  However, depending on when you last reported income, you may be eligible for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), which provides benefits to those individuals who do not have enough wages in their base year to file a regular UI claim.  

​I exhausted my benefits on or after July 1, 2019 and have not worked since then.  Am I eligible for PEUC? 

​You may be eligible for 13 weeks of PEUC.  Depending on when you last reported income, you may also be eligible for PUA after your PEUC eligibility ends.  PUA provides benefits to those individuals who do not have enough wages in their base year to file a regular UI claim. Please visit our PUA FAQs to find out more. 

​I was collecting unemployment after July 1, 2019, but then went back to work.  Now I am laid-off again.  How many weeks of UI am I eligible for? 

​The PEUC program provides eligible individuals with up to 13 additional weeks of benefits when you have exhausted your regular UI.  The total amount of week available to you will depend on how much in benefits remain on your regular UI claim. 

​What penalties can an individual incur for receiving improper payments of PEUC? 

An individual receiving PEUC as a result of intentionally providing information that the individual knows or should have known was false, will be ineligible for future PEUC and subject to prosecution.  The individual will also need to repay the amount received. 

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RETURN TO WORK

EMPLOYEES EMPLOYERS

For more information on returning to work after a COVID-19 related closure, read the FAQs below, or visit https://labor.vermont.gov/unemployment-insurance/refusal-return-work-covid-19. Employers can submit a report of refusal to work by completing the online form, found here at https://labor.vermont.gov/form/refusal-work-fraud-report.


EMPLOYEES

I am returning to work. Do I need to do anything to notify the Department of Labor?

If you are returning to work, you do not need to notify the Department at this time. You simply should stop filing your weekly claims. If you file for a week you are fully employed, that is fraudulent activity and you will be denied benefits. If you work and perform work during a week in which you are filing for UI benefits, you must report the hours worked and wages earned. 

If I refuse to return to work, can I still collect unemployment benefits?

If your employer resumes business operations and offers you your previous job back in the same position and pay grade, you would be obligated to accept work, even if it is for reduced hours. Your unemployment claim may be denied if you refuse to return to work. If you are able to work remotely and refuse to do so, your unemployment claim may also be denied.

If you are returning to work and your hours are reduced, you may still file for benefits. You will need to report hours worked and wages earned when completing your weekly claim certification. If you are working less than 35 hours and do not gross more than two times your weekly benefit amount, you are likely eligible for a partial benefit for your lost wages.

Will I be eligible for benefits if I refuse to return to work because I am concerned for my health or safety?

If an employee faces an unreasonable risk of exposure or infection of COVID-19, they may be eligible for benefits if they do not return to work. An unreasonable risk of infection or exposure means that the workplace is not in compliance with COVID-19 related safety guidance issued by OSHA, CDC, or the Vermont Department of Health.

May I be terminated if I refuse to return to work?

An employee may be terminated for refusing to return to work. However, employees may be entitled to protected paid leave under the Families First Coronavirus Relief Act (FFCRA) for certain COVID-19 related reasons if the employee:

  • is subject to a Federal, State, or local quarantine or isolation order related to COVID-19;
  • has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine related to COVID-19;
  • is experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and is seeking a medical diagnosis;
  • is caring for an individual subject to an order described in (1) or self-quarantine as described in (2);
  • is caring for a child whose school or place of care is closed (or child-care provider is unavailable) for reasons related to COVID-19; or
  • is experiencing any other substantially similar condition specified by the Secretary of Health and Human Services, in consultation with the Secretaries of Labor and Treasury.

An employee may not be terminated for taking eligible paid leave under the FFCRA. For more information, see the US DOL fact sheet on FFCRA Employee Rights: https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/pandemic/ffcra-employee-paid-leave

If my unemployment benefits are greater than the wages at my job, may I refuse to return to work and continue to collect unemployment benefits?

An employee who refuses to return to work for the purpose of continuing to collect unemployment benefits may be found ineligible on future unemployment claims. Any benefits paid during a period of ineligibility may be considered an overpayment and could be ordered to be repaid to the Vermont Department of Labor.

If I return to work part-time, can I still collect unemployment benefits?

If you return to work and your hours are reduced, you may be eligible for partial unemployment benefits if you are working less than 35 hours per week and you were working at least 35 hours per week prior to the unemployment period.

If I leave my job when my employer still has work for me, but I have to leave for a COVID-19 related reason, will I be entitled to unemployment benefits?

Leaving a job creates an issue on a claim that will have to be adjudicated. A claims adjudicator will contact you for more information.  If it is determined that you left for a COVID-19 qualifying reason, you may still be entitled to unemployment benefits.


EMPLOYERS

What should I tell my employees after I reopen my business and call them back to work?

When the business reopens, you should have a plan for each employee. You should notify each employee the start date, hours per week, and whether the conditions, location, or rate of pay have changed. Employers should communicate clearly whether they are making a firm offer of work or simply opening a dialogue of potential work arrangements. It is also important to communicate steps that will be taken to protect the health and safety of employees and customers.

If an employee is unable to return to work due to needing to stay home to care for a child, can an employer terminate that employee?

If an employee is unable to work because their usual child care provider (school or daycare) is closed due to COVID-19, and the employee would otherwise be able to work, then the employee may be eligible to take up to 12 weeks paid leave. The first two weeks would be paid at 100% of the regular rate of pay, followed by up to 10 weeks of 2/3 regular rate of pay. This leave is available until the regularly scheduled school closure date.

There are exemptions for two types of employers. Healthcare providers may exempt their employees from eligibility for paid leave. Employers with fewer than 50 employees may exempt their employees from paid leave if it would “jeopardize the viability of the business”, which has several definitions from US Department of Labor that are explained in Q&A #58 here: https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/pandemic/ffcra-questions#58

“A small business may claim this exemption if an authorized officer of the business has determined that:

The provision of paid sick leave or expanded family and medical leave would result in the small business’s expenses and financial obligations exceeding available business revenues and cause the small business to cease operating at a minimal capacity;  The absence of the employee or employees requesting paid sick leave or expanded family and medical leave would entail a substantial risk to the financial health or operational capabilities of the small business because of their specialized skills, knowledge of the business, or responsibilities; or  There are not sufficient workers who are able, willing, and qualified, and who will be available at the time and place needed, to perform the labor or services provided by the employee or employees requesting paid sick leave or expanded family and medical leave, and these labor or services are needed for the small business to operate at a minimal capacity.”

Exempt employers need not provide paid leave under the FFCRA and may terminate an employee who refuses to return to work. However, exempt employers may choose to provide paid leave for an employee regardless of their legal obligation to do so. Employers will still be required to provide earned sick time pursuant to Vermont law; see 21 V.S.A. § 482.

Employers may not discriminate or retaliate against an employee for invoking FFCRA protections, and employers violating FFCRA face similar penalties outlined in the FLSA and FMLA. An employer has a general duty to undergo an interactive process with an employee when the employer becomes aware that they may need EFMLA leave.

Department of Labor fact sheet related to FFCRA leave requirements for employers: https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/pandemic/ffcra-employer-paid-leave

If I am forced to lay off or furlough staff because my business has reduced hours or closed temporarily as a result of the pandemic, will I be relieved of charges to my unemployment insurance experience rating record?

Your account will be relieved of charges associated with any employee that you either bring back to work when it is safe to do so, or to whom you offer their job back when it is safe to do so, even if they choose not to return to your employment.

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Contact Information

COVID-19 Update: Department of Labor offices are currently closed due to COVID-19. Please contact the Department by phone.

Vermont Department of Labor
5 Green Mountain Drive
P.O. Box 488
Montpelier, 05601-0488
(802) 828-4000

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