COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Information as of March 31, 2020 at 12:00pm

Full FAQs | Employer FAQs Employee FAQs

Looking for more information on the CARES Act, including more benefits for Self-Employed Individuals? Go to https://labor.vermont.gov/CARESact_Vermont


EMPLOYERS

Q: What impact does the bill (H.742) signed by Governor Phil Scott on March 30, 2020 have on Vermont employers?

A: The bill will provide the following relief for employers:

  • Employer’s experience ratings will not be charged for benefits paid to employees for any of the COVID-19 related reasons (as detailed in Employee question 'Am I eligible for benefits')
  • If Employer rehires or offers to rehire employees within a reasonable time, employer will also be relieved of charges for up to eight weeks where:
    • Employer temporarily ceased operations in response to request from a public health authority, emergency order from the Governor or President, or actual exposure to COVID-19 at the workplace;
    • Employee becomes unemployed due to a state of emergency declaration or order/ directive of the President or Governor; or Employee isolates or quarantines at recommendation of medical professional or public health authority.

 

Q: What if I am forced shut down my business due to COVID-19 impact? Are my employees eligible for unemployment benefits?

A: If you are forced to temporarily shut down business operations, your employees will likely be eligible for unemployment benefits, assuming they meet all other eligibility criteria, and have a return to work date that occurs before the 10-week maximum. Under this circumstance, unemployment insurance claims made by impacted employees will be charged against the employer’s account.

 

Q: What if I need to temporarily reduce my employees’ hours due to slow-down in business as a result of COVID-19? Are my employees eligible for unemployment benefits?

A: If you experience a slow-down in business, causing a reduction in available work hours for employees, your employees may be eligible for partial unemployment benefits. unemployment insurance claims made by impacted employees will be charged against the employer’s account.

 

Q: What if I need to temporarily shut-down my operations as a result of COVID-19? Are my employees eligible for unemployment benefits?

A: If you need to shut down operations temporarily because an employee becomes sick and other employees need to be isolated or quarantined, your employees may be able to receive unemployment benefits. Unemployment insurance claims made by impacted employees will be charged against the employer’s account.

 

Q: What if I permanently close my business because of COVID-19 coronavirus?

A: The Vermont Department of Labor, Workforce Development Division, provides Rapid Response services to businesses in transition, downsizing, laying off workers and/or closing a facility. This includes coordination with key state and regional partners to explore alternative layoff aversion strategies if possible.

 

Q: My business has to reduce staff or close due to the global impact that COVID-19 has caused.  Is there anything that can help my affected workers:

A: The Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) Program is a federal entitlement program that assists U.S. workers who have lost or may lose their jobs as a result of foreign trade. This program seeks to provide adversely affected workers with access to funding opportunities to obtain the skills, credentials, resources, and support necessary to become reemployed.

 

Q: Is there any support to help me cover my operating expenses while I am shut down?

A: The federal Small Business Administration (SBA) may be able to provide assistance through the Economic Injury Disaster Loans program to businesses that have suffered substantial economic injury in an eligible disaster area. Congress approved up to $7 billion in low-interest disaster loans specifically to assist small businesses impacted by COVID-19. These loans can help small businesses meet financial obligations and cover operating expenses.  

Please contact the Agency of Commerce and Community Development website for more information. https://accd.vermont.gov/about-us/disaster-planning/covid-19-guidance-vermont-businesses

 

EMPLOYEES:

**updates from H. 742 included

Q: Am I eligible for unemployment benefits?

A: As the result of H. 742 signed into law by Governor Phil Scott on Monday, March 30, the eligibility requirements for unemployment benefits were expanded to include the following areas:

Temporarily Laid-Off:

  • Your employer ceases operations for a COVID-19 related reason
  • As a direct result of an order issued by the Governor or President
  • For the employees own COVID-19 related isolation/quarantine

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
  • Need to care for a child who has had their school or childcare center closed

For more information on establishing an initial unemployment claim, click here. Please note that Work Search Requirements have temporarily been waived as a result of COVID-19.

 

Q.  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?

A.  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

To ensure that you are properly filing your claim, please contact the Department of Labor’s Claimant Assistance Line at 877-214-3330 or click here for more on how to establish your initial claim. Please note that Work Search Requirements have temporarily been waived as a result of COVID-19.

 

Q.  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?

A.  If you are not receiving payment from your employer, such as paid sick leave or paid time off, you may be eligible for unemployment benefits during this period. For more information on establishing an initial unemployment claim, click here. Please note that Work Search Requirements have temporarily been waived as a result of COVID-19.

 

Q: What if my employer reduces my hours or I am laid-off due to a slow-down in business as a result of COVID-19?

A: In these cases, you would likely be eligible for unemployment benefits during the layoff period. If your hours are reduced, then you would likely be eligible for benefits to assist in time loss.

For more information on establishing an initial unemployment claim, click here. Please note that Work Search Requirements have temporarily been waived as a result of COVID-19.

 

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

A: As the result of H. 742 signed into law by Governor Phil Scott on Monday, March 30, the eligibility requirements for unemployment benefits were expanded to include individuals who have become sick or are isolating as a result of COVID-19.

For more information on establishing an initial unemployment claim, click here. Please note that Work Search Requirements have temporarily been waived as a result of COVID-19.

 

Q.  What if I need to take time off from work because I contract COVID-19?

A.  Employer-paid time off is the first and best option for employees in this case. If employer-paid time off is not available, under the Vermont Earned Sick Time law, employers are required to give employees 40-hours per year of earned sick time. Employees should check with their employer to confirm what, if any, accrued leave balances they have available.

As the result of H. 742 signed into law by Governor Phil Scott on Monday, March 30, you may also be eligible for unemployment benefits. For more information on establishing an initial unemployment claim, click here. Please note that Work Search Requirements have temporarily been waived as a result of COVID-19.

 

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

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

For more information on establishing an initial unemployment claim, click here. Please note that Work Search Requirements have temporarily been waived as a result of COVID-19.

 

Q.  What if I have filed an unemployment insurance claim in the last 12 months? Or currently have an open claim with the Department of Labor? 

A: If a Claimant had an existing unemployment insurance claim at the time of COVID-19, that claimant will likely remain eligible for benefits if they contract COVID-19 while currently filing, or if they are on a seasonal layoff and their return to work has been changed due to the pandemic. The Department has temporarily waived the Work Search Requirement for all individuals on unemployment benefits. 

For those who have opened a claim within the last 12 months (and thus have an open benefit year) and are looking to restablish a claim for Unemployment Insurance benefits as a result of COVID-19, you will need to Re-Open your Claim. More details can be found on the UI for Claimants page, found by clicking here: https://labor.vermont.gov/unemployment-insurance/ui-claimants

 

Q.  I still have questions about what benefits and programs may be available to individuals who are financial affected by COVID-19.

A.  Please contact the Vermont Department of Labor or visit labor.vermont.gov

  • Existing UI Claimants: Claimant Assistance Line - 877-214-3332
  • Employers: UI Employer Services - 802-828-4344
  • General questions: Department of Labor Commissioner’s Office - 802-828-4301

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