The Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) recently adopted emergency rules in response to the COVID-19 virus. Below are a few highlights to assist employers with their response plans. This is only an overview of some of the significant changes. Employers should work with counsel as they implement their policies in response to these rules and any individual concerns that may arise:
Employee Eligibility Under the Emergency Rules
- Under the emergency rules, employees who are temporarily laid off because of the COVID-19 virus may qualify for unemployment benefits if they were able and available to work at the time of the layoff. In order to be eligible for benefits, employees must be “actively seeking work.” Under the emergency rules, employees can meet this requirement if they are prepared to return to work as soon as the employer reopens.
- Employees confined to their homes because they have been diagnosed with COVID-19 virus, or caring for a parent, spouse or child that has been diagnosed, may be eligible for unemployment benefits. However, employees will need to register with the state employment service, be available work, and actively seek work from their home. The employee will be considered available for work if there is some work that the employee can perform from home, and there is a labor market for that work.
- Under the new rules, the 7-day waiting period is waived. Employees can apply as soon as they are laid off.
- When workers are laid off for a period of 7 days or more, or separated from the payroll for any reasons, employers are required to provide employees with a copy of an IDES publication which provides some basic information regarding unemployment benefits. Copies of this publication are available here (English) and here (Spanish)
- Employers are likely implementing additional measures including severance pay, FMLA leave and other possible forms of compensation to employees. These measures may impact employee eligibility for unemployment benefits. Feel free to reach out with any individual questions or concerns.
Again, this is a summary of some of the pertinent issues raised in the emergency rules. Each situation must be considered on a case by case basis.