Information contained in this publication is intended for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice or opinion, nor is it a substitute for the professional judgment of an attorney.
NOTE: Because the COVID-19 situation is dynamic, with new governmental measures each day, employers should consult with counsel for the latest developments and updated guidance on this topic.
The Alabama Department of Labor has modified its rules to permit certain unemployment claims connected to COVID-19. Additionally, the Alabama DOL has temporarily ordered that partial unemployment claims due to COVID-19 will not be charged to the employer’s account, if the employer takes certain steps.
In connection with guidance from the U.S. Department of Labor, Alabama employees may file a claim for unemployment benefits if they are:
- Quarantined by a medical professional or governmental agency;
- Laid off or sent home without pay for an extended period by their employer due to COVID-19 concerns;
- Diagnosed with COVID-19; or
- Caring for an immediate family member who is diagnosed with COVID-19.
Workers who fall into these categories will not have to search for work during the time of quarantine or illness. Additionally, the one-week waiting period requirement for benefits has been waived. The Department may require verification of quarantine or illness from claimants.
Notably, individuals who use paid sick, paid vacation or other paid time off for COVID-19-related absences will not be eligible for benefits.
Alabama also has provided relief for employers that experience temporary downturns in business related to COVID-19 resulting in employee claims for partial unemployment. In that situation, an employer’s account will not be charged for partial unemployment claims, if the employer follows a new process outlined by the Department. First, the employer should obtain the employee’s permission to file a partial unemployment claim on behalf of the employee and then should file the partial unemployment claim electronically. During the electronic submission, the employer should indicate the partial unemployment claim is COVID-19 related.
If an employer is unable to file a partial unemployment claim on behalf of an employee, the employer can avoid having its account charged by verifying that the claim is COVID-19 related and that the employer is waiving its right to respond to the Request for Separation Information (BEN 241 form). This written waiver should be submitted on company letterhead, reflect that the claim is COVID-19 related, and include the company’s unemployment insurance account number. Employers should send the waiver to Ben241waiver@labor.alabama.gov or fax it to 334-309-9098.
At this time, the Department has not expanded the eligibility length of partial or total unemployment benefits. The maximum weekly benefit remains $275.