Montpelier, Vt. – The unemployment insurance provisions that were put in place to expand eligibility for individuals directly impacted by COVID-19 are set to expire October 1, 2021.
Early in the pandemic, the Vermont Department of Labor worked with the legislature to temporarily change unemployment insurance requirements for claimants to accommodate Vermonters needing to leave employment for a COVID-19 related reason. The provisions were first outlined in Act 91 of 2020 and were then extended in Act 51 of 2021. Further extensions past those provided in Act 51 would have required legislative action.
Examples of the expanded eligibility scenarios include needing to quarantine due to exposure of COVID-19, needing to care for a child whose school or childcare center was closed due to COVID-19, and caring for a family member who had contracted COVID-19. With such expansions set to expire, Vermonters will only qualify for UI benefits under the traditional eligibility criteria, such as being laid off or terminated without cause. Individuals who have been filing under one of the COVID provisions, will now be required to conduct a weekly work search.
With the expiration of the expanded eligibility, the Department reminds Vermonters that if they have contracted COVID-19 while at work, they may be eligible for Workers Compensation. More details can be found on the Department website.
Parents who are concerned about the need to stay home with their children due to COVID-19 cases in schools, the State has announced a “Test to Stay” initiative. The new Test to Stay program focuses on having as few kids quarantine and miss school as possible. Unvaccinated students deemed a close contact would take a rapid-antigen test before school each date for a week after exposure in order to continue attending in-person school. Participation in the Test to Stay program could alleviate the need to unnecessarily quarantine, which would reduce the burden on parents and help prevent the loss of work time.
More information about the exemptions, including frequently asked questions, can be found on the Department’s UI [Newsfeed] webpage.