COVID-19 Layoffs: What to do

Posted: Mar 18, 2020, 4:07 PM

(Reprinted with permission of KTAL/KMSS)

Those who were laid off as of Monday due to coronavirus restrictions imposed by Louisiana’s governor have until 5 p.m. Saturday to file an unemployment insurance claim, according to the Secretary of the Louisiana Workforce Commission.

“If you were laid off due to COVID-19 beginning on Monday of this week, you have until Saturday at 5 p.m to file a claim,” said Ava Dejoie. “So it is important to know that you have a week to file a claim for this week.”

At a news conference at LWC headquarters in Baton Rouge Tuesday, Dejoie said demand for information about unemployment insurance in the wake of restrictions imposed by Gov. John Bel Edwards Monday has crashed the website at least once and the hotline has already taken hundreds of calls.

Edwards ordered all casinos in the state closed, along with bars, gyms and movie theaters. The order also limited restaurants to delivery and takeout and gatherings to 50 people.

“Yesterday, we had total 1,800 calls. This morning by 10 o’clock, we had 1,800 calls and by noon we had 3,600 calls.”

As a result, the LWC Claim Center hotline hours have been extended and are now 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday.

“We assigned people with new duties to help with handling with overflow pains and as of 1 p.m. we have 25 new additional staff to handle phone calls,” Dejoie said of the LWC’s efforts to move existing staff to assist their unemployment insurance staff with the increased call volume.

If an individual’s work hours have been reduced, the LWC says partial benefits could be available up to a maximum of $247 a week. Any earnings for the week a person works must be reported, even if they have not yet been paid. Include all income, commissions, tips and gratuities. Report the gross amount before deductions. These earnings would be factored into the amount of unemployment benefits paid for that week.

A number of factors determine eligibility for benefits. The LWC reviews each case separately. The maximum number of weeks that unemployment benefits can be paid per claim is 26 weeks in a 12-month period.

Wages and vacation pay (received or will receive) must be reported when the unemployment claim is filed. Sick leave and PTO do not need to be reported.

For full information, download and read the entire LWC response to the COVID-19 disease.