On March 16, 2020, Governor Reynolds announced assistance for workers and employers impacted by layoffs related to COVID-19. The guidance includes information for employees filing for unemployment insurance claims, as well as information on programs available for employers.
“Iowa Workforce Development is taking steps to reduce the impact of these claims on employers who have had to temporarily lay off staff due to closures or slowdowns,” said IWD Director Beth Townsend. “IWD encourages all employers to utilize paid leave and telework options for employees before utilizing temporary layoffs. Iowa Workforce Development will continue to monitor the situation, working with our stakeholders and updates will be released on our webpage.”
On March 17, 2020, IWD released the following: “In order to comply with current recommended guidelines regarding reducing large gatherings, Iowa Workforce Development strongly encourages claimants to use the online filing system. If customers do not have online access, they can call the unemployment insurance customer service line at 1-866-239-0843 and staff can file your claim for you over the phone.”
IWD resources can be found here: https://www.iowaworkforcedevelopment.gov/updates-and-resources-about-covid-19
COVID-19 Unemployment Benefits:
Qualifications for Unemployment Insurance due to COVID-19:
Claimants filing due to the following conditions in relation to COVID-19, can receive unemployment benefits:
- Caring for a family member
- Loss of childcare/school closures
- Employer shut down
- Need for employee to self-quarantine
- Employee contracts COVID-19 and is unable to work
.Individuals will still need to meet the wage requirement that they have worked for wages from an employer who claims them as an employee in six of the last eighteen months and have earned at least $2,500 in the same time period. IWD has waived the work search requirement and work availability for individuals impacted by COVID-19.
However, an employee should contact their employer regarding potential telecommuting, sick leave, paid time off (“PTO”), Family & Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”), Disability and other options their employer may be offering. If paid time off is not available, then the employee may be eligible for unemployment benefits.
Employers will not be charged the benefits received by their employees due to COVID-19 claims. IWD is encouraging employers to provide paid leave to employees unable to work as a result of COVID-19.
Employers should consider using the Voluntary Shared Work Program (Short-term Compensation) as an alternative to layoffs. Under this program, workers receive partial payment for Unemployment Insurance due to work reduction across a unit. It maintains productivity, while reducing costs due to a decline in regular business activity. Claims due to COVID-19 will not be charged against the employer under the VSW. More details about the program can be found here: https://www.iowaworkforcedevelopment.gov/voluntary-shared-work-program
Employees should use the online system to file unemployment insurance claims. The link to the portal can be found here: https://www.iowaworkforcedevelopment.gov/file-claim-unemployment-insurance-benefits When filing a claim online, individuals should select: “You are filing due to a temporary layoff as a result of COVID-19 (Coronavirus)”.
The minimum weekly benefit amount is $87 and the maximum weekly benefit amount is
$591. The weekly payment depends on the wages an employee received during prior quarters of the year and the number of dependents they have.
Individuals must file an initial claim application during the first week they wish to be paid. Individuals will not receive payments for any weeks prior to the effective date of their claim. Online claim application availability:
- Saturday or Sunday from 6:00 AM to 11:30 PM
- Monday through Friday from 6:00 AM to 6:30 PM
Claimants can expect to receive payment within 7-10 days after filing. Payment would be made via direct deposit to a checking or savings account or mailed IWD prepaid debit card.
To continue eligibility for unemployment insurance, recipients are required to file weekly claims. If recipients do not file a weekly claim, then they will not receive payment for that week. Recipients may file their weekly claim: https://www.iowaworkforcedevelopment.gov/file-weekly-continued-claim
- Sunday from 8:00 AM to 11:30 PM
- Monday to Friday from 8:00 AM to 5:30 PM.
- There is no weekly reporting available on Saturday