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Employer UC & COVID-19 FAQs

As of: May 11, 2020

If you have offered work to employees and your employee refuses to return to work, please complete Form UC-1921W, Refusal of Suitable Work.
 
On March 27, 2020, Governor Tom Wolf signed Act 9 of 2020 to temporarily amend the Pennsylvania Unemployment Compensation (UC) Law.  Pursuant to these emergency provisions related to COVID-19, contributory employers and reimbursable employers who have paid the 2020 solvency fee will receive automatic relief from charges for those employees whose UC claims are due to the COVID-19 outbreak or public health officials’ efforts to contain and prevent the spread of COVID-19.  Contributory employers and reimbursable employers who have paid the solvency fee for calendar year 2020 do not have to apply for relief from these COVID-19 related charges.  If you receive a denial of a previous request for relief from COVID-19 related charges, you can ignore this denial.
 
Act 9 of 2020 also allows reimbursable employers who did not pay the solvency fee for the calendar year 2020 to have 120 days to repay charges for COVID-19-related claims from the date UC Tax Services (UCTS) issues a Statement of Account.  UCTS may extend the 120-day deadline by an additional 60 days upon the request from an employer who demonstrates financial hardship. UCTS will offer interest-free payment plans to employers who demonstrate financial hardship. No interest shall accrue or be charged on late payments until January 1, 2021. 
 
In addition, the CARES Act provides for state and local governmental entities, certain nonprofit organizations, and Federally recognized Indian tribes that make payments in lieu of contributions to their state’s unemployment fund to be reimbursed at 50 percent for payments made on benefit claims from March 13, 2020 to December 31, 2020.  Please see the FAQs below for further information on how the CARES Act mitigates the economic effects of COVID-19 on reimbursable employers.

Employers and businesses can also see additional FAQs about unemployment in general. 

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I am a reimbursable employer, if I didn't participate and pay the Solvency Fee for 2020, will I still be eligible?


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No, those employers who did not elect and pay the solvency fee by the due date will not be eligible to request relief from charges for benefits with an AB date in 2020.

​I am a reimbursable employer and did not participate in the 2020 Solvency Program. Is there any assistance I can obtain to aid in the payment back of benefit charges?

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​Reimbursement of benefit charge payments paid during the weeks of the disaster declaration related to COVID-19 pandemic has been extended to 120 days from the date of the billing statement. If you are unable to pay within 120 days, please contact us to discuss repayment options.

  • Note:

    • Reimbursement of benefit charges not related to the COVID-19 pandemic will continue to have a due date within 30 days of the billing statement.

    • Interest will begin to accrue effective January 1, 2021.

​The CARES Act provides for state and local governmental entities, certain nonprofit organizations, and Federally recognized Indian tribes that make payments in lieu of contributions to their state’s unemployment fund to be reimbursed at 50 percent for payments made on benefit claims from March 13, 2020 to December 31, 2020.  When will Pennsylvania begin issuing those reimbursements?

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​Before the 50 percent reimbursements can be issued pursuant to the CARES Act, the new law  requires that employers pay in full their benefit charges.  Reimbursement billings are issued monthly for non-profit employers and quarterly for government entities.  The billings for March benefit charges were issued on April 11, 2020, with a payment due date of May 10, 2020. 

On March 27, 2020, Governor Tom Wolf signed Act 9 of 2020 to temporarily amend the Pennsylvania Unemployment Compensation (UC) Law.  Pursuant to these emergency provisions related to COVID-19, reimbursable employers who paid the solvency fee for calendar year 2020 will receive automatic relief from charges for those employees whose UC claims are due to the COVID-19 outbreak or public health officials’ efforts to contain and prevent the spread of COVID-19. 

Act 9 of 2020 also allows reimbursable employers who did not pay the solvency fee for the calendar year 2020 to have 120 days to repay charges for COVID-19-related claims from the date UC Tax Services (UCTS) issues a Statement of Account. UCTS may extend the 120-day deadline by an additional 60 days upon the request from an employer who demonstrates financial hardship. UCTS will offer interest-free payment plans to employers who demonstrate financial hardship. No interest shall accrue or be charged on late payments until January 1, 2021. Once reimbursable employers who did not pay the solvency fee pay their charges in full, they will receive the 50 percent reimbursement pursuant to the CARES Act.

​When will employers begin seeing the 50 percent reimbursements on the billings?

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Before Pennsylvania can issue the 50 percent reimbursement, the charge amounts must be fully paid by the employer and then submitted to the Federal Unemployment Account which will then transfer the appropriate amount to the Pennsylvania Unemployment Account for disbursement.  Since transfers are submitted monthly, we anticipate at least a 60 day turnaround.

How will that reimbursement be administered?

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The Department is currently revising the Statements of Account (SOA) that are mailed to reimbursable employers to reflect the amount of benefit charges that are eligible for the 50 percent reimbursement. The SOA will also reflect the reimbursement received for those charges. These new items will be kept separate from the normal benefit charges and benefit credits reflected on the SOA.  It is anticipated that the 50 percent reimbursement will be allowed to be used to offset new benefit charges for the billing period.  If any credits remain after the December 2020 SOA is fully paid, a refund may be requested for the balance or the credit can remain on your account to offset future charges.

Is there is anything we need to do to preserve our claim to the reimbursement. Is there a form or application we need to complete now?

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There is no action needed on your part as this process will be automatically administered by the Department.  If you have specific questions regarding your account or SOA, please feel free to contact our UC Employer Contact Center at 1-866-403-6163 which is staffed weekdays, Monday through Friday, from 8:00 am to 4:30 pm.

​Does the CARES Act provide any relief for reimbursable employers whose charges are not a result of COVID-19?

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Yes, the CARES Act’s 50 percent reimbursement applies to all payments made in lieu of contributions for weeks of unemployment beginning on or after March 13, 2020 and ending on or before December 31, 2020, even if the unemployed individual is not unemployed as a result of COVID-19. 

What relief is available to reimbursable employers for COVID-19 related charges?

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​On March 27, 2020, Governor Tom Wolf signed Act 9 of 2020 to temporarily amend the Pennsylvania Unemployment Compensation (UC) Law.  Pursuant to these emergency provisions related to COVID-19, contributory employers and reimbursable employers who have paid the 2020 solvency fee will receive automatic relief from charges for those employees whose UC claims are due to the COVID-19 outbreak or public health officials’ efforts to contain and prevent the spread of COVID-19.  Reimbursable employers who paid the solvency fee do not have to apply for relief. 

Act 9 of 2020 also allows reimbursable employers who did not pay the solvency fee for the calendar year 2020 to have 120 days to repay charges for COVID-19-related claims from the date UC Tax Services (UCTS) issues a Statement of Account. UCTS may extend the 120-day deadline by an additional 60 days upon the request from an employer who demonstrates financial hardship. UCTS will offer interest-free payment plans to employers who demonstrate financial hardship. No interest shall accrue or be charged on late payments until January 1, 2021. 

In addition, the CARES Act provides for state and local governmental entities, certain nonprofit organizations, and Federally recognized Indian tribes that make payments in lieu of contributions to their state’s unemployment fund to be reimbursed at 50 percent for payments made on benefit claims from March 13, 2020 to December 31, 2020.  

​When will employers begin seeing the relief from charges on their Accounts and/or reimbursable billings

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​Pursuant to Act 9 of 2020, contributory employers and reimbursable employers who paid the solvency fee do not have to apply for relief from charges for COVID19-related charges. The Department is currently working on system updates. When these updates are completed, the benefit charge credits will be issued. This could take up to 90 days, or three billing cycles, before you receive notification of the benefit charge credits.

​I paid the reimbursable Solvency Fee for Calendar Year 2020 but when I received my Statement of Account, there are charges for April 2020. I thought I was supposed to receive automatic relief of these charges. Must I pay these charges?

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​The Department is currently working on system updates. When these updates are completed, the benefit charge credits will be issued. This could take up to 90 days, or three billing cycles, before you see the benefit charge credits. At this time, we are not requiring employers who paid the Solvency Fee for Calendar Year 2020, and were approved, to pay any reimbursable charges beginning with Compensable Week Ending March 21, 2020. Once the system updates are completed, and credits issued, any remaining charges will be due and payable.

​I did not pay the Reimbursable Solvency Fee for Calendar Year 2020. My Statement of Account reflects benefit charges for April 2020. I thought I am entitled to 50 percent reimbursement. Must I pay these charges in full or do I only need to pay 50 percent?

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​Pursuant to the CARES Act, before we can issue the 50 percent reimbursement the benefit charge amounts must be fully paid by the employer. When paid in full, we can submit those amounts to the Federal Government for reimbursement which will then be given back to you.

Will my UC tax rate increase if my employees file for benefits?

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​No, contributory businesses who are temporarily closed due to COVID-19 will be granted relief from charges, and your tax rate will not be increased because of COVID-19-related claims.

Do contributory employers need to request relief from charges for COVID 19 related charges?

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No.  Pursuant to the emergency provisions related to COVID-19, contributory employers will receive automatic relief from charges for those employees whose UC claims are due to the COVID-19 outbreak or public health officials’ efforts to contain and prevent the spread of COVID-19.  Contributory employers do not have to apply for relief from these COVID-19 related charges.

I received a denial of my request for relief from charges.  Is this correct?

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No.  Employers do not have to apply for relief from charges for COVID19 related charges.  If you receive a denial of a previous request for relief from COVID 19 related charges, you can ignore this denial.

​Should my employees file for UC or should they use paid leave?

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Employers and employees should discuss what is best for their situation. Employer paid leave is typically available immediately and pays the employee at a higher rate than UC, which may take two to four weeks to receive and may replace only 50 to 70% of typical pay. 

Your employees may be eligible for paid sick leave or expanded Family and Medical Leave (FMLA) as provided by the federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act. Learn more from the US Department of Labor, which administers both programs.

Employees who are unable to work due to COVID-19 may be eligible for UC.

​Can my employees file for UC benefits if I tell them to stay home because I think they are at risk of spreading or at risk of contracting COVID-19?

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Your employees may be eligible for new paid sick leave and expanded Family and Medical Leave (FMLA) as provided by the federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act which is administered by the US Department of Labor. Find out more about the federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act here.

If your employees are not receiving paid time off, they may be eligible for UC benefits.

For more information and additional resources on operating your life-essential or waiver-approved business during the COVID-19 pandemic, please visit the PA Department of Health's website here. 

​Can my employees file a claim if they have COVID-19 and cannot come to work?

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Your employees may be eligible for new paid sick leave and expanded Family and Medical Leave (FMLA) as provided by the federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act which is administered by the US Department of Labor. 

If they are not receiving paid time off, they may be eligible for UC benefits.

If you are unsure of your employees' risk to COVID-19, the PA Department of Health has created a "risk assessment tool" to help businesses make decisions about operations and employee and customer safety during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Before returning to work, both you and your employees should consult the PA Department of Health guidance on home isolation or quarantine and returning to work after COVID-19 exposure.

​Can my employees file for UC benefits if I reduce their hours because of COVID-19?

​Can my employees file for UC benefits if they are told to isolate or quarantine?

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Your employees may be eligible for new paid sick leave and expanded Family and Medical Leave (FMLA) as provided by the federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act which is administered by the US Department of Labor. Find out more about the federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act here.

If they are not receiving paid time off, they may be eligible for UC benefits.

Are there any programs to support employers experiencing financial difficulties or business downturn due to COVID-19?

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​The Shared-Work program can help keep employees attached to your workplace by allowing an employer to temporarily reduce work hours rather than resorting to layoffs. You can reach the Shared-Work team at sharedwork@pa.gov.

However, if you are a business that has had to close either temporarily, consider layoffs, or is financially at-risk for permanent closure the Rapid Response Assistance Program is available to assist you with a variety of services and resources to help you and your employees. You can reach the Rapid Response team via email at RA-LI-BWPO-Rapid@pa.gov.

Additional resources for businesses are available through the PA Department of Community and Economic Development.


​If I am a small business owner, am I eligible for unemployment benefits if I need to close or temporarily shut down my business because of COVID-19?

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If you earn your primary income from working in your own business or farm, you may be eligible for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), which was created as part of the federal CARES Act that became law on March 27, 2020.

PUA is a separate program from regular UC. Small business owners and self-employed individuals are not eligible for regular UC. You can learn more about the federal CARES Act and PUA here.

Small businesses may qualify for a small business loan through the PA Department of Community and Economic Development, or for other programs available through the Small Business Administration including the Paycheck Protection Program.

​Can my employees file for UC benefits if my business is closed (temporarily or otherwise) because of COVID-19?

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​Yes, if your employees are temporarily laid off due to a business downturn or closure as a result of COVID-19, they may be eligible for UC benefits.

If you are experiencing a business downturn, you can use L&I's Shared-Work program to avoid employee lay-offs. Additional resources for businesses are available through the PA Department of Community and Economic Development.

However, if you are a business that has had to close either temporarily, consider layoffs, or is financially at-risk for permanent closure the Rapid Response Assistance Program is available to assist you with a variety of services and resources to help you and your employees. 


​I am self-employed, can I file an initial unemployment claim?


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Self-employed individuals, including individuals whose primary income comes from their own business or farm, may be eligible for unemployment benefits through the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program.

If you are not regularly eligible for UC, you should NOT file a claim through the traditional UC system; rather, please file a claim for PUA benefits.  

Am I required to continue to pay employee health benefits during a layoff due to the COVID-19 pandemic?


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​To our knowledge, there is no change in the allowance of a business continuing to pay health care benefits to employees on a temporary layoff.  Please refer to the Labor Law and Compliance FAQs under COVID-19.

My business is permitted to reopen, and I have employees who refuse to return to work because they can make more money receiving UC benefits.  What can I do?

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​Please complete Form UC-1921W. If you ask your employees to return to work, they must return, unless they have good cause for refusing your offer. Determining whether there was good cause for a refusal of work is driven by the facts of each claimant’s circumstances. During the current COVID-19 pandemic, if an employee refuses to return to work because they are at high risk of complications from the virus and their employer cannot make reasonable accommodations for them, or if they were being asked to return to work at reduced hours that result in them earning less than they did before the pandemic, UC staff would review those specific reasons and make determinations based on the facts of their individual cases.