Unemployment will be available for workers impacted by coronavirus shut downs

The governor has issued an emergency order that will shut down many businesses as the coronavirus pandemic unfolds in Iowa.

Iowa Workforce Development attorney, Nick Olivencia, says those employees can get state help. “Anyone that is being laid off temporarily is going to be eligible for benefits,” Olivencia says. He says several factors will determine the number of people who are laid off during virus shutdowns — which he says is similar to what they have seen in the past with things like natural disasters.

“Even though the coronavirus is new — the impact and the issue of temporary layoffs is not to us. So we are ready for any kind of influx, and kind of number coming in,” Olivencia says. “The on-line process is very simple to file and the process is the same as it was prior to this.”

Olivencia says the labor market is weighted in favor of workers right now and that will likely impact what companies do. “I know a lot of the medium and larger employers have paid sick leave, paid time off and other things that are going to allow people to work from home or to take time off during this period,” according to Olivencia. “There are some employers who do not have those options — but I think during this environment — people are trying to keep their employees and keep them as happy as possible.”

He says with the unemployment rate remaining at a very low level — it works in favor of the employees. “Employers have been struggling here for a couple of years to find available workers, so if they were to lay people off, it would be at a risk that other employers may take advantage and start to hire people if they need the volume. So, there is that risk from laying people off temporarily,” Olivencia says.

He says they are not worried about a big influx of people signing up for unemployment as they handle something similar every year when the cold weather hits. He says construction companies shut down in large amounts in November when the cold weather hits and they are used to handling that. “Right now the coronavirus is new, and it’s implications are unknown,” Olivencia says.

The requirements for unemployment essentially include working for wages from an employer who claims you as an employee in six of the last eighteen months and have earned at least $2,500 in the same time period. You can find more specific information at: www.iowaworkforcedevelopment.gov. The governor’s office says claims that are filed and identified as a direct or indirect result of COVID-19, will not be charged to employers.

Fact-finding interviews for these claims will be waived and not be held although employers will be notified of claims received.

— Radio Free Iowa