CORONAVIRUS

Iowa Workforce Development outlines CARES Act details

Agency says it aims to pay benefits quickly

Iowa Workforce Development logo
Iowa Workforce Development logo

DES MOINES — Iowa Workforce Development officials on Monday issued new information relating to federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security, or CARES, Act benefits and implementation for thousands of Iowans who have lost their jobs due to the coronavirus outbreak.

Provisions of the CARES Act enable unemployment benefits for the self-employed, independent contractors, not-for-profit employees, gig economy workers, those who have exhausted other unemployment insurance benefits and those who may not have sufficient work history to qualify for a regular state claim.

The CARES Act also includes eligibility for those receiving unemployment insurance benefits in any amount to be paid an additional $600 weekly benefit, according to IWD officials.

After receiving guidance from the U.S. Department of Labor, Iowa Workforce Development has begun aligning resources and technology to create the necessary processes to be able to pay qualified individuals their benefits as quickly as possible.

Agency officials estimate the new provisions will occur within the next 10 days.

The CARES Act provides the following unemployment insurance benefit programs:

1. Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation program provides individuals who are collecting regular unemployment compensation, pandemic emergency unemployment compensation, pandemic unemployment assistance, extended benefits, short-time compensation, trade readjustment act, disaster unemployment assistance and payments under the self-employment assistance program, with an additional $600 per week.

The first week a claimant can be compensated on this benefit is the week beginning March 29 and the last week is the week ending July 25. Iowa Workforce Development officials say their goal is to issue payments in the next 10 days to those who are eligible.

Iowans are advised they cannot quit their jobs and continue to draw government benefits. Iowans who refuse to return to work without a documented medical note consistent with the Families’ First Coronavirus Response Act will be disqualified from all benefits, including the $600 payment.

In addition, if an employer receives a loan under the PayCheck Protection Act and places an employee back on the full-time payroll, the affected worker no longer will be eligible for unemployment or federal pandemic unemployment compensation benefits.

2. The Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program provides up to 39 weeks of unemployment benefits to individuals who are self-employed, independent contractors, not-for-profit employees and gig economy workers, as well as to individuals working part-time or who otherwise would not qualify for regular unemployment compensation or extended benefits under state or federal provisions.

A claimant can be compensated with this benefit beginning Feb. 2 or the first week a claimant was unable to work as a result of COVID-19, whichever date is later.

The last week this benefit is payable is the week ending Dec. 26. As with the unemployment compensation, Iowa Workforce Development officials aim to issue payments in the next 10 days. The benefit also applies to anyone who has exhausted all unemployment insurance payment options at the state or federal level, including this assistance program.

3. Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation program provides up to 13 weeks of unemployment insurance benefits to individuals who have exhausted regular unemployment benefits under state or federal law, or have no rights to regular unemployment benefits under state or federal law.

The first week a claimant can be compensated on this benefit is the week beginning March 29 and the last payable week is the week ending Dec. 26.

4. Paycheck Protection Program provides a loan to businesses with fewer than 500 employees to keep their workers on the payroll. The Small Business Administration will forgive these loans if all employees are kept on the payroll for eight weeks and the loan is used for payroll, rent, mortgage interest or utilities.

Employees of businesses that take advantage of the paycheck protection program who are recalled to work — or are being paid full-time pay and benefits — are not eligible for unemployment benefits, and if they have a current claim, they should update their claim appropriately to reflect the day they were no longer eligible for unemployment benefits. For more information go to https://bit.ly/2JFU6Bq.

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Also, agency officials note none of the benefits described above — nor unemployment benefits of any kind — are available to employees who quit their job, refuse to return to work or refuse to receive full-time pay.

Iowa Workforce Development updates its FAQs for employers and claimants regarding this information and it can be found at its website at https://www.iowaworkforcedevelopment.gov. Iowa Workforce Development also will be conducting webinars for claimants and employers in the upcoming week that will include information on these new CARES Act program benefits. All information on the dates and times of webinars will be posted to its website and social media.

Comments: (515) 243-7220; rod.boshart@thegazette.com

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Our most important Coronavirus coverage is free to the public.

If you believe local news is essential, especially during this crisis, please donate. Your contribution will support news resources to cover the impact of the pandemic on our local communities.

All donations are tax-deductible.