Montpelier, Vt. – The Vermont Department of Labor has been informed that it will not be allowed to administer a supplemental unemployment insurance benefit that was passed during the 2021 legislative session.
Act 51 of 2021 authorized a $25 per week supplemental benefit for all unemployment claims beginning October 3, to individuals receiving unemployment benefits in the regular state unemployment insurance program. However, the Vermont Department of Labor was formally notified on September 1 by the United States Department of Labor (USDOL) that the $25 per week supplemental benefit does not meet the federal unemployment insurance program requirements and therefore the State cannot use Unemployment Trust Fund dollars to cover this benefit, as was intended under the legislation.
In May 2021, while the General Assembly was considering this legislation, the Department submitted a formal inquiry to USDOL for guidance on the creation of a supplemental benefit prior to it becoming law. The goal was to ensure any law passed met the federal government’s requirements; however, USDOL did not respond until after the bill passed both chambers and went into law.
“The legislative intent was to create a supplemental benefit structured like the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) program, which added a flat amount to each weekly benefit payment. While this is exactly how USDOL structured FPUC over the last year, we were informed that a similar state program is not permitted under federal unemployment insurance law,” said Commissioner Michael Harrington. “It’s unfortunate we are learning about it after the law passed, but we must now adapt to ensure we comply with federal law.”
The Vermont Department of Labor has been in contact with legislative leadership on this issue.