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COVID-19 Prompts Georgia to Adopt Emergency Rules on Unemployment that Penalize Employer Non-Compliance

Posted on: March 23rd, 2020

By: Andrew Kim

In response to COVID-19, on March 16, 2020, the Georgia Department of Labor adopted emergency rules making it a requirement for employers affected by COVID-19 to file partial unemployment claims on behalf of their employees. Barring subsequent action from the Georgia Department of Labor, these emergency rules will remain in effect for 120 days.

Emergency Rule: Mandatory Filing for Employers

Emergency Rule 300-2-4-0.5, containing Rule 300-2-4-.09(1), requires employers affected by COVID-19 to file partial unemployment claims on behalf of their employees.  For Partial Unemployment Claims filed on or after March 15, 2020, Employers must do the following:

  • File all partial unemployment claims online via the Georgia Department of Labor’s Employer Portal;
  • File partial claims with respect to any week during which an employee works less than full-time due to a partial or total company shutdown caused by the COVID-19 public health emergency.

For any violation of these requirements, the employer must pay the Commissioner the full amount of benefits paid to the employee.

Excluded Employees

Based on the Georgia Department of Labor’s guidance, employers do not need to submit partial claims for employees who:

  • Will be paid for the temporary layoff period (e.g., paid salary, paid sick leave, paid vacation or paid family leave);
  • Are or were on scheduled leave prior to the layoff period (e.g., leave of absence or medical leave);
  • Were employed a temporary agency and are currently working at your place of business;
  • Were employed in another state in the last 18 months (those employees should be directed to apply for unemployment benefits online);
  • Were employed with the federal government or on active military service in the last 18 months (those employees should be directed to apply for unemployment benefits online).

Filing Partial Claims Online

 

To file a partial claim online, an Employer must be a registered user that has administrator or user privileges permitting them to submit partial claims through the Employer Portal.  Employers who are registered but are not permitted to file partial claims are directed to contact their Employer Portal administrator for assistance. Employers that are not registered on the Employer Portal must establish an Employer Administrator Account.

Steps to file partial claim on the Employer Portal:

  • Log into the Employer Portal
  • Select the employer account number under Registered Account
  • Select the File Partial Claims link under Common Links
  • Follow the on-screen instructions

Considerations When Filing:

The Georgia Department of Labor provides several points to consider when filing:

  • Employers must file a partial claim for each pay period. A week of partial unemployment consists of an employer’s established pay period week.
  • Once a pay period is established, it should remain the same.
  • Accurately report the employee’s name, social security number (SSN), and date of birth. They must match the Social Security Administration’s records.
  • There must be seven (7) days between payment week ending dates.
  • Do NOT submit claims until after the week ending date on the claim. The Georgia Department of Labor (GDOL) cannot accept claims filed prior to the week ending date on the claim.
  • Report any vacation pay, holiday pay, and/or earnings during the week in which it was earned, NOT during the week it was paid to the employee.
  • Report any additional income employees are receiving to the GDOL, except Social Security benefits, jury duty income, and pay for weekend military reserve duty.

Emergency Rule: Waiver of Work Search Requirements

Emergency rule 300-2-0.4, containing Rule 300-2-4-02., has waived all work search requirements for claims filed on or after March 14, 2020. This rule remains in effect until either the Governor declares the Public Health State of Emergency over or 120 days from the adoption of the emergency rule.

Additional information: 

The FMG Coronavirus Task Team will be conducting a series of webinars on Coronavirus issues every day for the next week. We will discuss the impact of Coronavirus for companies in general, but also for business in insurance, healthcare, California specific issues, cybersecurity, and tort. Click here to register.

FMG has formed a Coronavirus Task Force to provide up-to-the-minute information, strategic advice, and practical solutions for our clients. Our group is an interdisciplinary team of attorneys who can address the multitude of legal issues arising out of the Coronavirus pandemic, including issues related to Healthcare, Product Liability, Tort Liability, Data Privacy, and Cyber and Local Governments. For more information about the Task Force, click here.

You can also contact your FMG relationship partner or email the team with any questions at [email protected].

**DISCLAIMER: The attorneys at Freeman Mathis & Gary, LLP (“FMG”) have been working hard to produce educational content to address issues arising from the concern over COVID-19. The webinars and our written material have produced many questions. Some we have been able to answer, but many we cannot without a specific legal engagement. We can only give legal advice to clients. Please be aware that your attendance at one of our webinars or receipt of our written material does not establish an attorney-client relationship between you and FMG. An attorney-client relationship will not exist unless and until an FMG partner expressly and explicitly states IN WRITING that FMG will undertake an attorney-client relationship with you, after ascertaining that the firm does not have any legal conflicts of interest. As a result, you should not transmit any personal or confidential information to FMG unless we have entered into a formal written agreement with you.  We will continue to produce educational content for the public, but we must point out that none of our webinars, articles, blog posts, or other similar material constitutes legal advice, does not create an attorney client relationship and you cannot rely on it as such. We hope you will continue to take advantage of the conferences and materials that may pertain to your work or interests.** 

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