|State unemployment benefits must be modified for COVID-19President Trump has signed the first economic policy in response to COVID-19, the Families First Coronavirus Act to provide important relief to many Arizona families who work for private employers with less than 500 employees or the government.Gov. Doug Ducey must issue an emergency order to temporarily waive rules regarding the state’s Unemployment Insurance program to access some of the funding made available in the act. This will help workers who lose their jobs, are furloughed, face diminished hours or need to miss work due to COVID-19. The emergency order must:UPDATE: ON MARCH 20th GOV. DUCEY ISSUED AN EXECUTIVE ORDER MEETING ALL OF THESE AREAS (but Arizona still needs to address inadequate benefit amounts–see below)
- Waive the work search requirement – it is a matter of common sense and public health for workers whose search involves in-person contact to suspend this requirement during a pandemic.
- Waive the waiting period – it is critical that workers receive benefits as fast as possible during this crisis to forestall or weaken an ensuing recession.
- Ensure that employers understand that their experience rating – or UI tax rate – will not be affected by outbreak-related claims.
Republican governors Kay Ivy of Alabama, Mike DeWine of Ohio, and Charles Baker of Massachusetts have already taken such action, which is in line with advice from the US Department of Labor.
An emergency order should be clearly communicated and widely-distributed to ensure that workers effected by COVID-19 know what support is available to them. Iowa provides an excellent example. Currently, Arizona’s unemployment insurance website provides no COVID-19 unemployment insurance information (see graphic comparison).
(UPDATE: By the evening of March 19th, DES had added a COVID-19 page to its unemployment website. GCI brought up the issue with DES on March 16th)