Louisiana News

Louisiana employees temporarily sidelined by COVID-19 can apply for unemployment benefits; 1099s not eligible

(The Center Square) – Employees who are temporarily out of work due to the coronavirus pandemic can apply for unemployment benefits through the Louisiana Workforce Commission, LWC Secretary Ava Dejoie said Tuesday.
She said 1099 workers whose employers have not paid into the state’s unemployment trust fund for four of the past five quarters on their behalf are not eligible. Workers who have seen their hours reduced but still are employed are less likely to be eligible for benefits but still can apply and have their situations judged on a case-by-case basis.
Workers seeking to be paid for this week should apply by 5 p.m. Saturday and can expect payment in three to five days. The maximum benefit by law is $247 per week.
Under current federal law, unemployment benefits can be paid for up to 26 weeks in any 12-month period.
Rules that normally require a worker to look for work while receiving benefits have been waived temporarily.
The trust fund contains more than $1 billion, and Dejoie said she is not concerned that it might be insufficient for the demand.
“Our trust fund is very strong,” she said.
Dejoie said call volume has tripled and the LWC website has crashed due to the high number of inquiries, though the agency now has moved people from other jobs to take calls.
Gov. John Bel Edwards has banned gatherings of 50 or more people in the same room and ordered casinos, bars and movie theaters to close at midnight, while restaurants will be limited to delivery, take out and drive-through orders only. Normal operations may be able to resume on April 13, though the situation will be reevaluated seven days prior.
Employers that are temporarily closing or reducing hours due to the virus are asked to call the LWC about unemployment insurance and other resources. The LWC also is working to connect employers who need workers with people who need work, Dejoie said.
More coronavirus-related information from the LWC is available here.
Symptoms of COVID-19, the illness caused by the new coronavirus, can include fever, coughing and trouble breathing. Most people who have it develop only mild symptoms. But some people, usually the elderly and those with other medical complications, develop more severe symptoms, including pneumonia, which can be fatal.
As of 5:30 p.m., four deaths from the illness and 196 cases in 13 parishes had been reported to Louisiana state health officials, including the first case in East Baton Rouge Parish. As testing ramps up, the number of reported infections is expected to climb dramatically.
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