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Cuomo provides updates on extended federal unemployment benefits, sick leave

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Tue, Dec 29th 2020 07:20 pm

Unemployed New Yorkers will receive additional $300 weekly supplement & extended pandemic unemployment assistance or pandemic emergency unemployment compensation starting week of Jan. 3 

Unemployed New Yorkers must continue to certify to receive benefits

Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday announced unemployed New Yorkers will begin receiving extended and expanded federal unemployment benefits next week – the first week these benefits can be paid under federal law.

His press release stated, “New York is able to provide these benefits immediately due to proactive work by the State Department of Labor to prepare for the federal government finally enacting a bill to extend unemployment programs originally included in the CARES Act that were set to expire at the end of 2020.”

The programs extended include pandemic unemployment assistance, which provides benefits for those not covered by traditional state unemployment insurance; pandemic emergency unemployment compensation, which provides additional weeks of benefits after an individual exhausts the 26 weeks of state unemployment insurance; and federal pandemic unemployment compensation, which provides all New Yorkers receiving unemployment benefits an additional $300 weekly payment.

"This pandemic has created an unprecedented economic crisis, and New Yorkers have waited in uncertainty for far too long. I have repeatedly called on the federal government to do the right thing by renewing critical benefits to support millions of unemployed families through to the end of this pandemic – and now that Washington has finally acted, New York is immediately delivering those funds," Cuomo said. "In the spring, New York led the nation in implementing federal unemployment programs, and this winter we will once again act swiftly to get money in the hands of New Yorkers who need it most."

The federal government has extended federal unemployment benefits for an additional 11 weeks – through March 14. New Yorkers currently receiving benefits do not need to call the Department of Labor to receive these extended benefits – they should continue to certify for unemployment benefits in their usual manner and will automatically receive extended benefits. Those whose unemployment benefit year has ended should reapply online. Details of how New York will implement these extensions follows:

√ Pandemic Unemployment Assistance – New Yorkers can now receive up to 57 weeks of PUA benefits, with the program extended from the week ending Jan. 3, 2021, through March 14. New Yorkers currently receiving PUA should continue to certify as usual and will continue to receive their benefits. According to the federal government, additional eligibility documentation will be required beginning Jan. 31. The Department of Labor will directly contact claimants who need to provide additional documentation.

√ Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation – New Yorkers can now receive up to 24 weeks of PEUC (up from the 13 weeks originally authorized in the spring) with the program extended through March 14. New Yorkers who have exhausted the 26 weeks of state unemployment insurance should continue to certify as normal and will automatically receive up to 24 weeks of PEUC. Individuals who previously exhausted the original 13 weeks of PEUC and transitioned to the extended benefits program will begin receiving extended PEUC benefits after they exhaust their EB benefits. The Department of Labor will automatically handle these program transfers.

√ Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation – New Yorkers' FPUC benefits will resume the week ending Jan. 3, and will last for 11 weeks. During that time, all New Yorkers who are receiving unemployment benefits – including traditional state UI, shared work benefits, PEUC, EB, or PUA – will receive an additional $300 payment per week. Per federal guidelines, FPUC benefits will not be backdated, and can only be provided starting the week ending Jan. 3, 2021.

New York State Department of Labor Commissioner Roberta Reardon said, "The extension of these federal unemployment benefits is a lifeline for many New Yorkers, and we will continue to do everything we can to bring relief to those who remain unemployed due to this unprecedented pandemic. We have paid out more than $59 billion in benefits to over 3.9 million unemployed New Yorkers during this crisis – nearly 28 typical years' worth of benefits paid in 10 months – and we will continue to move heaven and earth to serve our neighbors."

New Yorkers may be eligible for an additional $100 per week through the mixed earner unemployment compensation program. MEUC benefits are provided for individuals who earned at least $5,000 a year in self-employment income, but are disqualified from receiving more substantial PUA benefits because they may be eligible for traditional state UI. New York has signed an agreement with the US DOL to offer MEUC benefits and is currently awaiting additional guidance from the federal government on implementing the program. The Department of Labor will provide more details as they become available.

Additional updates, including answers to frequently asked questions, will be posted to the Department of Labor website at www.labor.ny.gov.

New Yorkers who are unemployed are also encouraged to take advantage of the State's Career Services resource page, view more than 112,000 jobs postings from all regions in the state and across all industries on New York's “Jobs Express” website at labor.ny.gov/jobs, increase their skills through the state's online learning platform in partnership with Coursera, and utilize the State University of New York's “SUNY FOR ALL” free online training center.

NEW YORKERS CAN BEGIN USING NEW PAID SICK LEAVE BENEFITS STARTING JAN. 1

Leave can be used for an illness, to care for a sick family member, or to address safety needs for victims of domestic violence

More information for New Yorkers available here

Cuomo announced New Yorkers can begin using sick leave benefits under the state's paid sick leave law starting Jan. 1. This legislation, which was advanced in the governor's 2020 State of the State address and enacted as part of the fiscal year 2021 budget, secures paid sick leave for workers at medium and large businesses and paid or unpaid leave for those at small businesses, depending on the employer's net income. Under this law, New Yorkers can use guaranteed sick leave to recover from an illness themselves, care for a sick family member, or address safety needs if they or a family member are the victim of domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking, or human trafficking. More information is available on the state's paid sick leave website.

"Even before the coronavirus pandemic, we knew that no one should have to make the unimaginable choice between keeping their job or caring for themselves or a loved one. This public health crisis has put that need in even greater relief. Now, as we continue to beat back COVID and build a stronger New York, we are expanding this fundamental right to all New Yorkers," Cuomo said. "New York has long championed workers' rights, and this strongest-in-the-nation paid sick leave law will help millions of our neighbors stay healthy – a boon for both businesses' bottom line and New Yorkers' well-being."

Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul said, "No one should have to choose between going to work sick or caring for a sick loved one and not getting a paycheck, especially as we continue to battle the COVID-19 pandemic. That is why, in New York, we have the most comprehensive paid family leave and paid sick leave programs in the nation that serve as a model for other states to follow. This is part of our ongoing efforts to help ensure equal access, opportunity and success for all hard-working men and women in New York state."

New Yorkers earn sick leave based on the hours they work, earning one hour of leave for every 30 hours they work, retroactive to Sept. 30, 2020. New York's new guaranteed sick leave law requires businesses to provide different levels of sick leave depending on their size:

√ Businesses with 100 or more employees must provide up to seven days (56 hours) of paid sick leave per year;

√ Businesses with five to 99 employees must provide up to five days (40 hours) of paid sick leave per year;

√ Businesses with fewer than five employees, but a net income of more than $1 million, must provide √ up to five days (40 hours) of paid sick leave per year; and;

√ Smaller businesses with fewer than five employees and a net income of less than $1 million must provide up to five days (40 hours) of unpaid sick leave. However, those already providing paid sick leave can continue to do so.

"The lack of a paid sick leave policy was hurting our most vulnerable New Yorkers, and that is simply unacceptable," Reardon said. "Gov. Cuomo has been a champion for workers – and under his leadership, New York has been a progressive leader on issues important to working families. With this new law, we will remain at the forefront of the effort to restore economic parity and secure social justice for all. New Yorkers will no longer have to choose between staying home and getting healthy, or going to work to pay their bills."

Prior to the law's passage, approximately 1.3 million New Yorkers did not have access to paid sick leave – forcing them to either take unpaid leave and risk losing their jobs or show up to work while sick, potentially spreading communicable diseases to coworkers and the general public. Nearly one in four workers had reported being fired or being threatened with termination for taking sick time.

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