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March 27, 2020 1:54pm

GLI’s Guide to Unemployment Insurance During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Many employers and employees who have never had to deal directly with unemployment insurance are now finding it necessary to learn as much as possible in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. The crisis is forcing millions of Americans into unemployment, including many in the greater Louisville region. 

To help our investors navigate the world of unemployment insurance, we have begun assembling a guide answering some of the most common questions we have received and providing as many resources as possible. 

In addition, Kentucky provides updated information on UI benefits here and here. Indiana has developed FAQ document for claimants and employers. These documents have been updated in light of the COVID-19 crisis.

If you have a question that is not answered below, please email us and we will work on getting you an answer and adding it to this guide. 

This guide was last updated on March 27, 2020

Where can you file for unemployment benefits?

Click here for Kentucky but be aware that the state has adopted procedures to accommodate the influx of claims. Read about those procedures here

Click here for Indiana. The state is requesting patience from claimants and raising awareness of long wait times as it deals with high call volumes. Claims can be filed online.

What changes have been made to unemployment insurance rules in Kentucky and Indiana in response to the COVID-19 pandemic?

There have been several but some of the most important are:

  • Individuals typically not covered by unemployment insurance can now file in Kentucky. Examples include self-employed, independent contractors, freelance workers, substitute teachers, and child care workers employed by religious affiliated organizations and non-profits. Indiana guidance on this issue states the following: “Independent contractors and the self-employed are not engaged in covered employment for the purposes of UI, so benefits would not be available. They are likely eligible for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) under the federal CARES Act. More information on that program will be provided as soon as available.”
  • The requirement that an individual must wait seven days after losing their job to file for benefits has been waived. This will allow individuals to start receiving benefits quicker. This applies to both states. 
  • The requirement that an individual must be actively seeking employment has been waived. This is to account for the fact that many industries and job sectors are currently shut down by government orders and social distancing requirements. This applies to both states. 
  • The maximum duration of benefits for both states has been extended from 26 weeks to 39 weeks due to the CARES Act.

If an employee quits their job, are they eligible for UI benefits?

The employees must have quit for “good cause.” Kentucky officials are considering reasons related to COVID-19 for leaving a job in the context of good cause. Read more here. Indiana guidance states: “In most cases, no. However, the facts of each circumstance are important. You can file and [the Department of Workforce Development] will evaluate your claim.”

I heard that employers with 50 or employees who are laying off 15 employees or more are encouraged to use Kentucky’s Mass E-File. Is that true?

This is true and it will help expedite the processing of claims. Learn more about Mass E-File here and here. Email UIeclaims@ky.gov to initiate this process.

Where should workers who live in Indiana but work in Kentucky file and vice versa?

Individuals should apply for benefits in the state in which they were employed. For example, an individual who lives in Indiana but works in Kentucky should file in Kentucky.

With all of the unemployment claims happening right now, how will this affect future UI rates for employers?

In a recent GLI webinar, Kentucky Deputy Secretary of Education and Workforce Development clarified that UI claims during the COVID-19 pandemic will not affect future rates for employers and employer accounts are not being charged. He added that the state and federal government are taking steps to ensure the strength of Kentucky’s unemployment insurance trust fund. 

Indiana’s guidance on this states: “Layoffs due to COVID-19 will not be charged to contributory employers, but will be mutualized to the entire contributory employer pool. More information regarding this will be sent to employers soon. Layoffs by reimbursable employers will be charged to the employer
dollar-for-dollar, in the same manner they have always been charged, but a retroactive credit of 50% of the charges will be applied to the account once reimbursement is received under the federal CARES Act.”

If I do not want to layoff staff but instead reduce their hours, will they be eligible for UI benefits?

Kentucky offers a work-share program in which unemployment benefits could be available for workers with reduced hours. In a work-share program, employers compensate employees for the reduced hours they work, while the state provides supplemental benefits. For employers with 50 employees or more reducing hours for at least 15 employees, email: UIeclaims@ky.gov; for small employers, email: workforce@ky.gov.  

Indiana’s guidance on this issue states: “[Employees] may be eligible for benefits, but part-time employment during the week claimed will reduce the amount of benefits paid for that week. If employees do work while receiving benefits, those employees must report any money earned on the voucher for the week they worked (not the week they ultimately get paid for the work). Failure to report money they
earned is fraud and can result in denial of benefits, collections actions, and criminal
prosecution.”

How much can an individual receive in unemployment benefits right now?

Use Kentucky’s benefits calculator to find out. Bear in mind that this number could increase due to forthcoming federal legislation.

For Indiana, read this document.

I heard Kentucky and Indiana having trouble processing the number of claims?

Kentucky has implemented new procedures to better structure the flow of incoming claims, is making technological upgrades, and is hiring more staff. Indiana is also working actively to accommodate the influx of claims. For both states, if you have questions, please visit the respective state websites FIRST: Kentucky and Indiana.