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On March 27, 2020, The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act was passed by Congress and signed into law by President Trump. this economic relief package was over $2 trillion to provide workers, families, and small business with economic assistance. On April 2nd, 2020, The U.S. Department of Labor announced a new CARES Act guidance on unemployment insurance for states in response to COVID-19 Crisis. The new guidance introduced the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program. This program covers people who are not normally eligible for unemployment insurance (UI) programs. These non-typical people include jobs such as gig workers. The PUA provides benefits for eligible individuals who are self-employed, seeking part-time employment, or who otherwise would not qualify for UI benefits under state or federal law. 

In order to be eligible for this program, one of multiple requirements is that “individuals must demonstrate that they are otherwise able to work and available for work within the meaning of applicable state law, except that they are unemployed, partially unemployed, or unable or unavailable to work because of COVID-19 related reasons.” For example, a typical question that is asked is “Can I quit my job to collect unemployment and the $600 weekly FPUC payment?” The answer to this question is simply put as no. Under Missouri unemployment law, most people who are currently employed and quit are not eligible for unemployment benefits. If an employer offers sick leave and/or other leave or remote work options to address COVID-19 in lieu of layoffs, then a person who quits on his/her own volition would not qualify for unemployment benefits. Another common question is if someone refuses to return to work, are they are still eligible for unemployment benefits? Except for certain circumstances, they will not. These certain circumstances are detailed here. 

Under the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) program, eligible individuals who are collecting certain UI benefits, including regular unemployment compensation, will receive an additional $600 in federal benefits per week for weeks of unemployment ending on or before July 31, 2020. 

To read more on the CARES act new guidance, please visit: https://www.dol.gov/newsroom/releases/eta/eta20200402-0; 

For more information on UIPLs or previous guidance, please visit: wdr.doleta.gov/directives/. 

For more information on Coronavirus (COVID-19), please visit: https://labor.mo.gov/coronavirus