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Employers – Was Your Business Shut Down by the Covid-19 Emergency? Be Sure You Know Your Responsibilities To File Partial Claims With the Department of Labor 

By Will White 

This post was written at 4:00 p.m. on Friday, March 27, 2020.  We believe that it wasaccurate and up to date as of that time. However, because of the rapid, daily changes in the political, business, and legal climates, we cannot guarantee the post’s currentness.  

If you are a company that has suffered a partial or total shutdown caused by the COVID-19 pandemic emergency, be sure that you check out the Georgia Department of Labor’s website for your responsibilities regarding the employees that are now working less than their full hours.  

Visit this page:  https://dol.georgia.gov/gdol-covid-19-information

Then: COVID-19 Employer FAQs (on the right margin) 

On March 20, 2020, an emergency regulation was adopted “mandating employers to file partial claims online on behalf of their full and part-time employees who work less than full-time due to a partial or total company shutdown caused by the COVID-19 Emergency.  Employers who refuse to file partial claims are in violation of the rule and will be required to reimburse GDOL for the full amount of benefits paid to their employees.”  (Georgia Department of Labor, Frequently Asked Questions for Employers, Covid-19, No. 1).  

The reasoning behind the rule requiring employers to file (rather than just making the employees do it) is that an employee has to show that he or she is not working due to no fault of his or her own.  If the Employer files the partial claim, the “no fault” step is skipped and the employee gets unemployment benefits faster.  

Who is covered?

Basically, employees that were “furloughed” or “laid off” due to COVID-19 closures or restrictions and are expected to return when the emergency ends.  From the website: “full and part time employees who are temporarily laid off or whose hours have been temporarily reduced because of a lack of work due to COVID-19.  Employees must be expected to return to work when the COVID-19 emergency ends. They must also be United States (U.S.) citizens or non-citizens who are authorized to work in the U.S.”

Who is not covered?

Employees that have been permanently separated (terminated/fired) would have to file for unemployment as usual.  Similarly, the partial filing requirements do not apply to 1099 employees, employees from temp agencies, and employees who are out because they were already scheduled to be on vacation/break/shut down during this time of year. 

The Department of Labor website has some very useful information about when and how to file the partial claims.  Because of the stated penalties, if an employer has a question about whether or not its lay-offs fall under this requirement, the Department of Labor’s website should definitely be consulted.   

We know that these are uncertain and scary times for small business owners.  After all, we run a small business.  It is our hope that posts like these, meant to inform, will help ease some of the stress.  As always, please stay safe and let us know if we can help. 

We are making this post to inform as much as possible.  It is not our intent to give legal advice or to create an attorney/client relationship.  If you need legal advice, please consult an attorney. If you have questions about your particular situation, please give us a call, send us an email, or request a video conference. We’ll be happy to assist. 

Smith Welch Webb & White