COVID-19 UPDATE: Unemployment Compensation In New Hampshire

Governor Sununu’s Executive Order 5, issued on Tuesday, March 17, 2020, expands who is eligible for unemployment compensation benefits.  The new federal law, Families First Coronavirus Response Act (H.R. 6201), imposes paid sick leave and paid Family and Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”) amendments.  It is presumed that H.R. 6201 takes effect on April 2, 2020.

Executive Order 5 expands access to State unemployment benefits for individuals impacted by COVID-19 in several ways:

  • Individuals are eligible when their leaving of employment (including self-employment) was necessary because:
    • The individual has a current diagnosis of COVID-19;
    • The individual is quarantined, including self-imposed, at the instruction of a health care provider, employer, or government official, to prevent the spread of COVID-19;
    • The individual is caring for a family member or dependent who has COVID-19 or is under a quarantine related to COVID-19; or
    • The individual is caring for a family member or dependent who is unable to care for themselves due to the COVID-19 related closing of their school, child care facility, or other care programs.
  • Temporarily suspends the waiting period before becoming eligible
  • Self-employed individuals are now eligible too

Unemployment benefits paid pursuant to Executive Order 5 are charged against the unemployment compensation trust fund and not assigned against the account of the most recent employer.  Further, reimbursement shall not be sought against employers (such as nonprofits) electing reimbursement.

Self-employed individuals may receive an initial denial letter generated automatically by the system, but the Department of Employment Security will follow up with a call to finish the enrollment process.  Applicants who are self-employed should make sure to have as much information as possible to show 2019 earnings to help establish what their benefit rate will be going forward.

Executive Order 5 does not have language that an employee who is terminated for economic reasons or because of the closing of schools or restaurants is eligible under it.  Thus, the normal waiting periods and requirements of actively looking for work would apply to these terminated employees applying for unemployment compensation.  It remains to be seen how Employment Security will process these claims.

Employees need to submit weekly updates, similar to a normal unemployment claim.  Claims are being processed in roughly 8 days.

Executive Order 5 also has language that if any federal legislation is passed it will negate the Order, except to the extent the state Order provides benefits not afforded by the federal legislation. So the key is to determine how federal and state requirements will coordinate.

For more information contact: Steven Winer, Jennifer Eber, Lindsay Nadeau, Kelley Stonebraker, Meredith Farrell

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