The State of Alabama has now joined the ranks of other states across the country in following guidance from the U.S. Department of Labor and extending unemployment benefits to workers who are unable to work due to COVID-19. On Monday, the Alabama Department of Labor Secretary announced that such workers would now be eligible to file for unemployment benefits.
The existing unemployment compensation rules were modified to allow workers to file a claim for unemployment compensation benefits, beginning March 23, 2020, if they are affected in any of the following ways:
- Those who are quarantined by a medical professional or government agency;
- Those who are laid off or sent home without pay for an extended period by their employer due to COVID-19 concerns;
- Those who are diagnosed with COVID-19; or
- Those who are caring for an immediate family member diagnosed with COVID-19.
This rule modification also changes the requirement that a laid-off worker be “able and available” to work while receiving unemployment compensation benefits under the conditions above and waives the standard “waiting week” required before receiving benefits. Specifically, claimants will not have to search for other work as long as they take reasonable steps to preserve their ability to come back to the same job when the quarantine is lifted or illness subsides.
The ADOL’s press release announcing this rule modification noted that verification of illness or quarantine may be required and expressly stated that individuals who are being paid to work remotely or who are receiving paid time off are NOT eligible for these benefits, regardless if they experience any or all of the conditions listed above. The ADOL also instructed that employers who decide to cease operations and shut down due to causes related to COVID-19 should treat the closure as a temporary layoff for unemployment purposes.
The legal landscape related to COVID-19 continues to change by the minute. We will continue to update you on these changes and are here to answer any questions you may have. In the meantime, we would advise that you inform potentially eligible employees of this unemployment benefits option.