H. 742 expands unemployment insurance (UI) benefits to workers who must voluntarily leave employment due to COVID-19 impacts listed below. Additionally, H. 742 authorizes the Department to relieve employers of benefit charges to their unemployment insurance experience rating due to staff losses and temporary closures.
H.742 Impact on Employees
Employees may be eligible for unemployment benefits if they voluntarily separate from their employer because of COVID-19 related reasons, including the following:
- Self-isolation or quarantine on order of a healthcare provider due to COVID-19 diagnosis, COVID-19 symptoms, COVID-19 exposure, or the individual is a member of a high-risk category, as determined by the Center for Disease Control, if exposed to COVID-19
- The employee is at unreasonable risk of exposure or infection to COVID-19 at their workplace due to their employers inaction to align workplace safety measures with guidance issued by the Center for Disease Control, the Vermont Department of Health or the Vermont Occupational Health and Safety Program (VOSHA).
- The employee must care for or assist a family member due to COVID-19 diagnosis, symptoms, exposure, or high-risk
- The employee must care for or assist a family member who left employment due to unreasonable risk of exposure or infection to COVID-19 at their workplace
- The employee must care for a child under 18 because the child’s school or childcare center is closed or unavailable due to COVID-19
If an employee voluntarily separates from their employer for any reason not stated above, they may not be eligible for unemployment insurance benefits.
If an individual quits their job, and meets one of the above categories, they may be eligible for unemployment insurance benefits. For an eligibility determination to be made, the individual must establish an unemployment insurance claim. The claimant will need to demonstrate they meet one of the above categories in the event they quit due to a COVID-19 related concern.
H.742 Impact on Employers
Employer’s UI experience ratings will not be charged for benefits paid to employees impacted by COVID-19 related reasons if the employer rehires or offers to rehire employees within a reasonable time of resuming operations. The employer will also be relieved of charges for up to eight weeks when:
- The employer temporarily ceased operations in response to a request from a public health authority, emergency order from the Governor or President, or actual exposure to COVID-19 at the workplace;
- The employee becomes unemployed due to a state of emergency declaration or order or directive of the President or Governor; or
- The employee isolates or quarantines at the recommendation of a medical professional or public health authority.
If an employer does not rehire or offer to rehire employees within a reasonable time, the employer may not be relieved of charges for benefits paid to employees. The eight week limit on benefit charge relief may be extended if the Commissioner of Labor determines that doing so would be appropriate in light of the terms of any applicable request from a local health official, the Commissioner of Health, the Governor, or the President.
The Department will provide further guidance at the appropriate time regarding the relief of charges and the requirements in H.742.