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Employer UC & COVID-19 FAQs

As of: March 23, 2020

PENNSYLVANIA EMPLOYERS

Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development's COVID-19 Resources for Businesses

Governor Wolf's Order for Non-life-sustaining Businesses - Industry Operation Guidance List

Employees affected by a business closure, reduction in hours, or a medically or government directed 
quarantine or isolation should be encouraged to file for unemployment compensation (UC) benefits
if no other compensation, such as paid leave, is available to them.

 Employees should be aware that they cannot receive both UC benefits and paid leave,
as it may result in an "overpayment" that requires them to return benefits. 

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

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Employees who are unable to work due to COVID-19 are strongly encouraged to work with their employers to first exhaust any paid leave that is available. 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.

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. 

Employees who do not have access to paid leave, or have exhausted their paid leave, may be eligible for UC.

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.

​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 should first use paid sick leave or paid time off, and they 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.

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

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Your employees should first use paid sick leave or paid time off, and they 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.

​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 should first use paid sick leave or paid time off, and they 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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​No. However, you 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.

​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.