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On Feb. 25, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration issued updated guidance for the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program, expanding eligibility for workers who may be able to participate.

According to a DOL news release, the new guidance expands eligibility to three categories of workers:

  • Workers receiving unemployment benefits who had their continued regular unemployment benefits’ claims denied after they refused to work or accept an offer of work at a worksite not in compliance with coronavirus health and safety standards.
  • Workers laid off or who have had their work hours reduced as a direct result of the pandemic.
  • School employees working without a contract or reasonable assurance of continued employment who face reduced paychecks and no assurance of continued pay when schools are closed due to coronavirus.

Additionally, the eligibility expansions related to the coronavirus are retroactive, meaning they apply as if they had been included from the beginning of the PUA program. However, individuals filing their first initial PUA claim after Dec. 27, 2020, are limited to weeks of unemployment beginning on or after Dec. 6, 2020.

According to the DOL website, in order to receive unemployment insurance benefits, workers must file a claim with the unemployment insurance program in the state where they worked. Depending on the state, claims may be filed in person, by telephone or online. All questions regarding eligibility should be directed to the state employment agencies.

More information on unemployment insurance relief can be found on the DOL website.