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Stay at home orders may be a necessity in the times of Covid-19, but there’s no doubt that they’ve done a number on the workforce. That said, a lot of Americans don’t exactly understand what unemployment insurance is. Many more may understand unemployment insurance but not recognize how to access those resources or even realize that they’re eligible. Further complicating matters are the new changes made to UI in the wake of Coronavirus.


The most prominent of these changes are new rules for providing unemployment to the self-employed. While Coronavirus has made this a necessity, the rise of the gig job economy certainly precipitated the problem. While the self-employed won’t receive the income-based unemployment checks, they may be eligible for about $600 a week.

The Department of Labor is always on the look-out for fraud, and it can be surprisingly easy to commit – even accidentally. For example, if your employer pays your uninsurance through a PPP loan the first time you’re laid off, you may actually be required to repay that money. Make sure that you understand the terms of any payments you receive, and get in touch with a local office if you have any questions.

In some instances, employers are bringing back their employees with reduced hours and pay, but some of those employees may still be eligible for unemployment benefits. That’s because unemployment insurance is designed to ensure that a living wage. As long as you report your wages, you can earn up to 20% of your weekly benefit amount.

If your employer received a PPP loan, they have up to eight weeks to spend it on items relating to their business. Some businesses have used this as a way to pay employees even if they can’t bring them back on the schedule. If employees don’t show up to work, businesses will suffer in that their PPP loan will not be fully forgiven. Understandably, those receiving more with unemployment due to the supplemental rate may not be as eager to return back to work. For that reason, employers should be careful about where they dispense that extra cash.

Finally, there’s a question of what to do with leftover vacation time. Unfortunately, Coronavirus doesn’t give you a free pass. If you are able to do your job, you’ll have to either go into work or use your vacation days. Of course, whether or not an environment is safe to work in will be predicated on a number of factors and can vary from state to state.