CORONAVIRUS

Federal coronavirus package lets affected Iowans get unemployment benefits without exhausting paid leave

#x201c;The enactment of the CARES Act has provided a significant source of additional funding for claimants, and this po
“The enactment of the CARES Act has provided a significant source of additional funding for claimants, and this policy change reflects the evolving situation,” Iowa Workforce Development said Monday. Above, Iowa Workforce Development Director Beth Townsend speaks during the 2018 Iowa Ideas Conference at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Cedar Rapids Convention Complex. (Liz Martin/The Gazette)

Iowans no longer will have to use all paid leave before they’re eligible for unemployment insurance benefits, after federal lawmakers on Friday passed a $2 trillion coronavirus stimulus package.

Iowa Workforce Development on Monday announced the change for employees who have been or will be laid off, or who are unable to work, because of COVID-19, as a result of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security, or CARES, Act.

The state agency said its previous policy requiring claimants to use all available paid leave before filing for unemployment benefits “was necessary to sustain the Iowa Unemployment Trust Fund, which is funded entirely by employers doing business in Iowa and is the source of all benefit payments to claimants.”

“The enactment of the CARES Act has provided a significant source of additional funding for claimants, and this policy change reflects the evolving situation,” Iowa Workforce Development said Monday.

The change is not retroactive, and new and existing unemployment claims will not be backdated before the week of March 29.

The CARES Act benefit programs also will expand those eligible for unemployment benefits to include the self-employed, independent contractors, not-for-profit and gig economy employees, plus workers who have exhausted their benefits.

Iowa Workforce Development said two weeks ago that unemployment insurance claims filed as a direct or indirect result of the coronavirus will not be charged to employers.

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The state agency will continue to post information on its website — IowaWorkforceDevelopment.gov — as it receives more guidance from the U.S. Department of Labor.

Comments: (319) 398-8366; thomas.friestad@thegazette.com

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