Georgia Reinstates Pre-Pandemic Unemployment Insurance Requirements
In accordance with the plan for reemployment and the announcement to no longer participate in the federal unemployment insurance (UI) programs enacted through the CARES Act and the American Rescue Plan Act, the Georgia Department of Labor (GDOL) will reinstate many of the eligibility requirements waived during the recent pandemic. The last payable week for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC), Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC), and Mixed Earner Unemployment Compensation (MEUC) is week ending June 26, 2021, reinstating additional requirements on June 27 for claimants and employers.
Pandemic-related eligibility rules previously suspended require that claimants be able to work, available to work, and actively seeking work. These requirements will again become mandatory for UI claimants on June 27. Claimants must be able and available for work and actively seek employment for each week benefit payments are requested. Individuals requesting unemployment benefits must register for employment services in their state of residence to avoid interruption, delay, or denial of benefits, if found to be eligible. Individuals who reside in the state of Georgia must register with EmployGeorgia, the state’s reemployment system, and include his/her social security number during registration. Individuals will be asked to create a searchable resume or upload a searchable resume to the site and submit three work search contacts for each week payments are requested.
“States across the nation are reinstating work search mandates as emergency rules are lifted and businesses reopen to the public,” said Georgia Labor Commissioner Mark Butler. “We adjusted many of our regulations during the pandemic to make receiving benefits easier during the crisis and now those modifications are no longer necessary.”
The previously adjusted earning disregard rule that allowed earnings up to $300 per week to be disregarded when calculating the weekly benefit amount will be reduced to $150 per week. This means reported earnings more than $150 will be deducted dollar for dollar from the weekly entitlement amount.
For more information about these requirements and how to fulfill them, claimants can reference the Unemployment Insurance Claimant Handbook online at dol.georgia.gov.
Employers will also experience changes regarding benefits charging and employer filed claims beginning June 27, 2021. During the pandemic, contributory employers were relieved of unemployment benefit charges for claims filed for individuals who were unemployed or partially unemployed due to COVID-19. Effective June 27, 2021, the relief for unemployment benefit charging will end regardless of the reason for unemployment. Unemployment benefits paid for weeks ending on or after June 27, 2021, will be charged to the most recent employer under the law section OCGA 34-8-43.
The Partial Claims (Rule 300-2-4.09) will recommence effective June 27, 2021. Employers will only be allowed to submit six (6) consecutive weeks of partial claims with no earnings. Individuals that are unemployed more than six (6) consecutive weeks will be considered to be separated and subsequent claims filed will not be processed or paid. In such cases, employers are encouraged to convert claims from partial claims to individuals-filed claims to allow the individuals to request their own weekly benefits and report gross earnings if they work.
Employers are asked to report job refusals online for employees who refuse to report or return to work or refuse an offer of work at dol.georgia.gov and select Report UI Fraud & Abuse.
“We are focused on supporting our job seekers and employers during this readjustment period and reinstating many of the requirements we had in place prior to the pandemic will certainly support these efforts,” said Commissioner Butler. “At this time, we are not seeing the number of layoffs and temporary shutdowns we experienced last year when many of these temporary rules were created, but we will continue to monitor the job market and make any changes needed to help get Georgians back into the workplace.”
Today, the Georgia Department of Labor (GDOL) announced it has processed 4,875,243 regular unemployment insurance (UI) claims since March 21, 2020, more than the last 10 years prior to the pandemic combined (4.8 million).
As of today, over 238,000 jobs are listed on EmployGeorgia for Georgians to access. Employ Georgia uses artificial intelligence to match an individual’s skills to potential jobs. Claimants receive access to job listings, support to upload up to five searchable resumes, job search assistance, career counseling, skills testing, job fair information, job training services, and accessibility and special accommodations for people with disabilities and veterans transitioning back into the workplace.
Claimants are being encouraged to register with Employ Georgia before weekly work search is mandated on June 27, to avoid interruptions in their payments. Video tutorials on how to register and utilize EmployGeorgia are available at https://employgeorgia.com//.
The GDOL has paid over $22 billion in state and federal benefits in the past sixty-three weeks. Last week, the GDOL issued almost$154 million in benefits, which included regular unemployment and federally funded Lost Wages Assistance (LWA) supplements, Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC), Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC), and State Extended Benefits.
Last week, regular UI initial claims totaled 22,240, down 2,382 over the week. Initial claims are defined as any notice of unemployment filed to request a determination of entitlement to or eligibility of unemployment insurance compensation OR to begin a second or subsequent period of eligibility within a benefit year. Initial claims numbers are not a direct correlation to layoffs. Additionally, the agency currently has 177,206 active PUA claims.
Resources for reemployment assistance along with Information on filing an unemployment claim and details on how employers can file partial claims can be found on the agency’s webpage at dol.georgia.gov.
For more information on jobs and current labor force data, visit the Georgia Labor Force Market Explorer at www.explorer.gdol.ga.gov to view a comprehensive report.