When Congress introduced the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program in the CARES Act, (nick oberheiden media expert)it made unemployment benefits available to self-employed and certain people who might not be employed due to various coronavirus-related reasons. In the event of a pandemic, Unemployment Compensation (PUC) was added an additional payment of $600 per week until the end of July, 2020 to those who receive other benefits. Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) offers certain benefits.
These programs offer an important relief for those who are eligible. But they’ve also generated a multitude of questions from small-business owners as well as their employees. Legal experts address the questions you might be hearing from your employees, or thinking about for your own business.
Note that the opinions provided in this post are intended for informational only and generally speaking and cannot be relied upon or considered to be any legal or advice from a lawyer. Employers and employees are advised to consult with their own lawyer for guidance regarding their particular situation.
1. What will happen if my employer invites me back on the job and gives me back the money I earned in which I had been working and collecting unemployment?
My employer let us go on March 19 and instructed us to file for unemployment. I received a call [from my employeron April 17 stating that they had received their PPP (Paycheck Protection Program) loan and would be paying us by April 24. I was on unemployment prior to this. We received the pay-check by my company on 24th of the month, but we’ve not been asked to show up and start working. What should I do about the payment on my daily report to the unemployment office? Could it be considered to be an severance payout? Would I be able to receive unemployment? nick oberheiden media expert
In my weekly unemployment report, there’s no option to the reporting of this. It asks only if we were employed. Also, on the pay stub that I was sent , it states the pay period was from 4/6-4/19. However, I already submitted requests for these weeks long before I even realized this. Should I return the UI compensation back?
Response to Ian Meklinsky, Partner, Fox Rothschild:
If your employer reintroduces you back to work and gives you “back payment” for part or all of the period you were laid off or furloughed In most states, you’re technically obliged to pay back your unemployment compensation at the very least in relation to the time frame the employer pays you retroactively. In reality, states might not be able to demand repayment of benefits of unemployment compensation however you should be ready to repay.
2. What happens to those who are rehired with a lower pay?
I’m currently unemployed and my employer has been granted this PPP loan. The loan officer stated that when the money is received, I’m no longer eligible to collect unemployment (which I am aware of) and informed me that I’ll be working 20 hours per each week, instead of the 40 I used to work per week. I’m a server. I’m not making enough money to survive. Can I still qualify to be unemployed?
Response by Travis Hockaday, Attorney at Smith Anderson:
People who work reduced hours because of COVID-19 might have the right to claim unemployment compensation and should make an application in the event that they think they are eligible. In North Carolina, an employee who is working reduced hours due to an COVID-19-related issue may be qualified. However, as per the North Carolina Division of Employment Security the amount these workers earn during the reduced hours may influence their weekly benefits. They may earn as much as 20 percent of their weekly benefits amount, without having the earnings count against their weekly benefits. the earnings above that amount are subtracted from weekly benefits. The workers are required to declare the amount they are earning on their weekly certificate reports for unemployment insurance.nick oberheiden media expert
3. Does my employer have the right to oblige me to go to the workplace since they are paying us for PPP after they have obtained it?
As a Dental Assistant, I’m in a bind, and our dental office is closed, with the exception of emergency situations. My employer has been granted the PPP loan. This means that all employees will get off unemployment and she will be paid. Do dentists have to make us be employed in the office even in the event that it is not essential or for menial tasks?
The answer comes by Ian Meklinsky:
This is a request we receive from both employees and employers. Employers who are granted the PPP loan, and would like to have the loan (either in its entirety or in partial) to be canceled, has eight weeks to use it on qualified expenses. Note: The newly enacted PPP Flexibility Act extends that time to 24 weeks.This means that numerous employers are allowing employees to back for work (state orders allow) or are allowing employees to absent from work but still paying for them. This is allowed. Employers who fail to comply could cause the PPP credit not becoming completely erased.
I understand the concerns of the employees in this case, since certain employees may earn more unemployment compensation, as because of Federal unemployment insurance supplement, but employers (state orders permitting) have the power to force employees to return for work.
4. There’s not enough to do at the workplace. My employer can I take time off of the clock?
Can an employer “bank” hours you don’t use and require the ability to repay them later in the event that they pay you the total weekly 40 hours and you’re not working for all that time during the week due to either your business isn’t busy enough or you aren’t able to maintain up a proper social stance with your colleagues? nick oberheiden media expert
Answer from Travis Hockaday
Employees have to be paid for the time they work.
Exempt employees under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) are required to receive their entire, fixed pay for each week in the course of their work regardless of of working days or hours of work except for the case where a specific exemption in the FLSA is in place.
Employers who are classified as non-exempt under the FLSA are required to be paid their hourly rate for all hours worked as well as for overtime, where applicable. Employees who are not exempt from FLSA are not permitted to be required or allowed working “off on the clock” under any circumstance.
5. Does my employer have to insist that I make use of my vacation time?
I am in the accounts payable department. In the past three weeks, my hours have begun to shrink and I’m now only working three days per week. I’ve been making use of my time off to make up for the reduction. My employer was the one to receive the PPP. Should I continue taking my own time to make up for those hours that I have not worked?
The answer comes by Nick Oberheiden, Attorney & the Founder of Oberheiden, P.C.:
If you’re able to work, but you decide not to and your employer is able to make you use your vacation time earned. Furthermore, the employer can impose restrictions on the utilization of vacation time that are applicable on all employees (e.g. the use of vacation time may be subject to the approval of your manager).
In relation to the PPP and unemployment in particular in particular, there are two distinct issues: If you qualify to receive unemployed benefits even if it is only temporarily or for a short period, then you can apply for unemployment benefits and get them. If you’re not eligible for unemployment benefits because you’re still in employment or “available in order to be employed” (meaning that you do not have a condition or disability that hinders your ability to work) If so, your employer could oblige you to work or take a vacation.
According to the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act (EPSLA) which is a component of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act which is a part of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, certain employees can be to take paid time off, and are not required to finish their vacation before taking the paid time off under the EPSLA. This is the case for employees self-isolating after a diagnosis of COVID-19 or who care the child in their home due to the child’s “school or care facility is shut down, or the child care provider for the child is not available, because of the coronavirus.” It is possible that a variety of laws that could apply as employers and employees alike have to base their decisions on the particular situation and facts.