Unemployment Benefit FAQs

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Among the hardest areas for employers to deal with during this COVID-19 crisis is being forced to lay-off employees – first and foremost based on the human element, and then secondarily navigating issues relating to the unemployment system, which they may have infrequent experience with, and certainly no experience during times of a pandemic. Recently, the Illinois Department of Employment Security ("IDES") issued guidance, by way of frequently asked questions, to aid employers. Much of the guidance confirms the advice that we have been providing to clients (based on our anticipation of how the IDES would resolve certain issues), while also clarifying additional points. Among the highlights:

The IDES further noted that at this time, the law has not been changed to give employers extra time for filing monthly or quarterly wage reports. However, employers are reminded that they can file a written request with the Director prior to the wage report filing due date to ask for an extension to file the wage report. The maximum extension for filing a monthly wage report is 15 days. The maximum extension for filing a quarterly wage report is 30 days. In order to make the request for an extension, the employer must state a reason for the request. Employers are encouraged to file their requests for extension via the MyTax website.

Last, many clients have also inquired as to how laying off employees would affect their unemployment rating. The IDES noted: "For regular unemployment compensation, employers generally contribute to the cost of benefits for their former employees. The contribution rate of an experience-rated employer is based, in part, on the amount of unemployment benefits paid to the employer's former employees, so this rate may rise when an employer furloughs or lays off employees due to COVID-19. If legislation is passed making claims related to COVID-19 non-chargeable to the employer, then employers furloughing or laying off workers due solely to COVID-19 would not be required to contribute to the benefit costs, and the costs would be 'pooled' between all employers. This would likely result in increased unemployment tax rates in future years for all employers because the entire pool of employers would need to be tasked with replenishing the benefit trust fund."

 A full list of the IDES' guidance can be found here:

https://www2.illinois.gov/ides/IDES%20Forms%20and%20Publications/Covid19-FAQ-Employer.pdf

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