By Nathan Ham
With the uncertainty that continues to surround businesses during this coronavirus pandemic, North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper issued an executive order that will hopefully make it easier for many affected employees to receive unemployment benefits.
The executive order suspended the one-week waiting period for benefits and will not require people to look for another job to obtain benefits. Two of the most significant changes are that workers who may not be unemployed but did have some of their hours cut back can receive benefits and employers will not be held responsible for unemployment payments due to the virus outbreak throughout North Carolina.
“We know this will be a hardship on owners, on customers, and on workers involved. We know this will cost people jobs, but we are doing all we can to alleviate problems however we can. We will work tirelessly and make the very best decisions we can,” said Governor Cooper in a statement announcing the changes to unemployment benefits.
Part-time employees will be eligible as long as they have earned a certain amount of income to qualify. Seasonal employees and temporary employees are also eligible to apply for these benefits. Temporary employees will need to communicate with their staffing agency on how to proceed with applying for these benefits.
To sign up for unemployment benefits, each applicant will need their Social Security number, an explanation of any separation/vacation/severance pay that may be received, bank routing number and account number for direct deposit and work history for the past two years.
Information and Questions
1. Basic Rules and Filing Instruction
- Expansion of Unemployment InsuranceThis new executive order also includes an expansion of unemployment insurance to help North Carolina workers affected by COVID-19.“We know this [closing dine-in operations] will be a hardship on owners, on customers, and on the workers involved,” Gov. Cooper said. “We know this will cost people their jobs, but we are doing all we can to alleviate problems however we can. We will work tirelessly and make the very best decisions we can.”
- Governor Cooper lifted the following rules for unemployment benefits:
o The one-week waiting period for benefits has been suspended.
o People won’t be required to look for another job to obtain benefits.
o Workers who have had their hours cut back can seek benefits.
o People can apply online or over the phone and don’t need an in-person interview.
o Employers won’t be held responsible for unemployment payments for anyone seeking benefits because of the outbreak.
• To apply for unemployment benefits, individuals can:
o • Submit online forms at https://des.nc.gov/apply-unemployment o • Call 888-737-0259. Or
o • Visit one a NC Works Career Center offices.
- Are part-time employees eligible for unemployment insurance?
Yes, part-time employees may be eligible as long as they have earned a sufficient amount of money to qualify.
- Are seasonal employees eligible for unemployment insurance?
Seasonal employees may be eligible if they apply during the season in which they work, and their employer is designated as a seasonal employer, and they have earned a sufficient amount of money to qualify. If you apply, the Division of Employment Services will look at those details to determine if you qualify.
- Are temporary employees eligible?
Temporary employees who work for the company laying off are treated in the same manner as permanent employees. Temporary employees who work through staffing agencies are eligible if the staffing agency does not have any other employment for them.
- Will a business owner who is also paid a salary be eligible for unemployment insurance?
That depends on whether the business owner covered themselves as an employee when paying quarterly unemployment insurance taxes. In other words, a business owner who paid unemployment insurance taxes for him/herself would be eligible.
- When waiters and others who rely on tips for part of their pay apply for unemployment insurance, should they include their tip income in what they list as their income?
Yes, employees who typically earn tips should include that in their income when filing for unemployment insurance.
- Is there any category of worker who is not eligible for unemployment insurance? Are independent contractors eligible?
Independent contractors and self-employed workers are typically not covered. In order to be eligible, workers must have held a job considered covered employment. However, the Governor is likely to seek a federal disaster declaration, which if approved, would allow for the federal disaster unemployment assistance for those who do not qualify for regular unemployment.
- Does this order extend benefits beyond the statutory limit of 12 weeks?
No. Extending benefits beyond the current 12-week period allowed by law would require action by the General Assembly.
- How can I/my employees sign up for unemployment insurance?
People can sign up for unemployment insurance online at www.des.nc.gov,
- What information do I need to sign up for unemployment insurance?
To sign up, an applicant needs to gather certain information including your Social Security Number, details about any separation, vacation or severance pay you will get, details about any retirement pay you get, your bank routing number and account number (for direct deposit), and your work history for the past two years (employer name as it appears on your check stub, employer’s payroll and physical address, telephone number, employment dates, rate of pay, and reason of separation for each employer).
- Will Division of Employment Services (DES) website be ready for people to sign up immediately? Yes, but it is initially experience problems due to the volume of applications.
- I don’t qualify for these benefits. Is other relief available to me?
We understand this emergency is having a significant impact on jobs, businesses and our entire economy. We are continuing to explore other relief that may be available for workers and business owners, both at the state and federal levels, including a federal disaster declaration.
- I have additional questions. Where can I go for answers?
Please visit the Division of Employment Services at https://des.nc.gov/ for FAQ’s or call 888-737- 0259. Questions may also be directed to [email protected]