HR Hotline: What About Unemployment Benefits?
Q: With all the layoff activity taking place due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many are asking “how much does a laid off worker get in unemployment benefits?”
The actual amount of weekly unemployment benefits a laid off employee may receive is determined at the time of filing for benefits.
It’s a somewhat complicated calculation based on the individual’s employment history and wages reported to the Connecticut Department of Labor over the course of recent months.
We advise against attempting to inform an employee of the precise amount they may be eligible for.
However, if characterized as a rough estimate, it’s safe to suggest it’s typically about 50% of past earnings, subject to the statutory maximum weekly amount of $649.
When doing the math, that calculates as follows:
Someone paid at or above $1,300 a week, or $32.50 an hour for a 40 hour week, or the equivalent of $67,600 yearly, would receive no more than the maximum unemployment amount of $649 a week in benefits.
An employee paid less than these amounts would receive approximately 50% of their past average weekly wage.
Q: Many employers are looking for ways to keep employees’ wage level whole, at least for a while.
One approach considered is to supplement unemployment benefits with salary continuation or using employees’ earned, unused PTO to make up the difference between their regular weekly wage and the lesser unemployment benefit amount–would that work?
A: Probably not. Under the current law, the weekly benefit amount is reduced if the employee receives any wages for the week when unemployment benefits are claimed. Part-time wages, bonuses, or tips must be reported when earned, not when paid.
An otherwise eligible unemployment claimant’s weekly benefit amount is reduced by two-thirds of the weekly gross earnings.
An unemployment claimant’s failure to report wages attributable to a week when benefits are claimed could be prosecuted for fraud.
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