Unemployment Benefits – Frequently Asked Questions

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CEA Legal Update

From:  CEA Legal Center

Date: August 28, 2020

RE: COVID-19 LEGAL FAQ Update – Unemployment Benefits


This memorandum serves as a guidance to frequently asked questions presented to the CEA Legal team regarding how to respond to the unprecedented epidemic sweeping our nation. The FAQ’s will be updated as we address questions from the field. Please be patient and understand that these circumstances present new and uncharted areas of law. CEA Legal will provide the best advice it can based on its understanding of current law however, the law is unclear in many areas.

QUESTION: When is an employee eligible for unemployment benefits?

ANSWER: An employee is eligible for unemployment benefits if the employee:

  • For any reason has had reduced hours or wages (including hourly and tipped employees) OR has been furloughed and will be returning to the job.
  • Has been laid off permanently with no intention of returning to their job.
  • Is unable to go to work because their place of employment is closed as a result of Executive Order or other shelter-in-place order.
  • Has been diagnosed with COVID-19.
  • Has a member of the employee’s household who has been diagnosed with COVID-19.
  • Is unable to go to work because the employee has been advised by a healthcare provider to self-quarantine.
  • Has primary caregiving responsibility for a child or other person who is unable to attend school or another facility as a result of COVID-19.

Normally, resigned or refusing to return to work makes an employee ineligible for unemployment benefits. However, an employee who resigns or refuses to return to work for the following reasons may be eligible for benefits:

  • Employee is a vulnerable individual and employee’s job requires in-person work near others.
  • Employee cares for a dependent who is a vulnerable person.
  • Employee is not able to work due to child care issues.
  • The conditions of the work environment do not conform broadly to Safer at Home guidelines and thus pose a clear health concern.
  • Employee is being called back to a position by the employer that is considerably different from the original job and thus unsuitable to the employee’s skills.

In order to be and remain eligible for unemployment benefits, an employee must engage in work search activities. Work-search activities include:

  • Applying for a job for which the employee is reasonably qualified.
  • Interviewing for a job for which the employee is reasonably qualified.
  • Taking an exam required as part of the application process for a new job for which the employee is reasonably qualified.
  • Contacting an employer, whom the employee reasonably believes may have available suitable work, to inquire as to whether the employer is hiring.
  • Being referred to a job by a state workforce center or other entity which provides similar services.
  • Adding a resume to an online job board.
  • Engaging in documented use of online career tools.
  • Participating in reemployment services at a state workforce center or other location where similar services are provided.
  • Participating in state-sponsored or other professional job-related education or skills development.
  • Creating a user profile on a professional networking website.
  • Participating in networking events related to a job or occupation for which the employee is reasonable qualified.

QUESTION: Are there additional unemployment benefits due to the COVID-19 pandemic?

ANSWER: Yes, through December 31, 2020, an individual can receive an additional 13 weeks (in addition to the standard 26 weeks) of unemployment benefits.

Also, on August 8, 2020, President Trump signed an executive order to provide “lost wages assistance,” or additional payments to unemployment recipients. While Colorado has not yet finalized the amount of its payments, it is expected to be an additional $300 to $400. Any individual who is receiving at least $100 in weekly unemployment benefits will be eligible for this additional payment.

QUESTION: What is the unemployment benefits application process?

ANSWER:

  1. File application online with Colorado Department of Labor and Employment.
  2. Unemployment notifies and asks for information from employer.
  3. Unemployment may request additional information from employee.
  4. Unemployment deputy issues decision awarding or denying benefits.
  5. Losing party (employee or employer) may file appeal.
  6. If an appeal is filed, a hearing is held before a hearing officer (remotely). CEA Legal does provide legal representation is an appeal is filed if certain criteria is met. Please contact your local union representative for more detail.
  7. Losing party may file appeal with Industrial Claims Appeals Office (ICAO) – appeal is on the record, no new hearing.

** More information can be found on the Colorado Department of Labor and Unemployment’s website, located at https://www.colorado.gov/cdle.

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