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Coronavirus and Unemployment Insurance Benefits: Employer Resource Hub

If you are an Ohio employer who has completed or is planning a mass layoff or shutdown due to COVID-19, please review our key resource links and frequently asked questions to find out more about what you and your employees can expect from unemployment insurance.

Latest News

Please distribute this Application Step-by-Step Guide to employees laid off because of the COVID-19 pandemic to expedite their claim process.
Thank you to all employers who are able to pay their first-quarter 2020 payments on time. These payments are used to pay benefits to unemployed workers.
Due to COVID-19, please email ALL WARNs to rapdresp@jfs.ohio.gov until further notice.

Jump to FAQ categories by selecting topics below:

Unemployment Eligibility

Will workers qualify for unemployment benefits if their employer shuts down operations or lays off works as a result of the coronavirus (COVID-19)?
Yes, unemployment benefits will be available for eligible Ohioans who lose their job due to their employer shutting down operations or laying off workers as a result of loss of production caused by COVID-19. For eligibility details, please visit unemploymenthelp.ohio.gov/employee. Employees that do not qualify for regular unemployment benefits due to insufficient hours or wages may be eligible for the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program offered through the federal CARES Act. For details regarding expanded eligibility, please visit unemploymenthelp.ohio.gov/expandedeligibility and follow our official accounts on Twitter and Facebook.
I still have employees working but working fewer hours. Are they eligible for unemployment benefits?
Individuals who are partially unemployed due to lack of work may be eligible for benefits. Any earnings from employment during the week claimed may reduce the amount of benefits paid. Earnings equal to or less than 20% of a claimant’s weekly benefit amount will not reduce the amount of benefits paid. Earnings over 20% of the weekly benefit amount will reduce the benefit payment dollar for dollar. Earnings equal to or over the benefit amount will result in no benefits for that week.
I have employees on Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) leave. Are they eligible for unemployment benefits?
No. Unemployment benefits are available only if you are unemployed. Employees on FMLA through their employer are not unemployed.
I am a manager at a hair salon and fortunately have signed up for unemployment, but some of my employees don’t meet the $269 per week qualification. What are their other options?
Employees that do not qualify for regular unemployment benefits due to insufficient hours or wages may be eligible for the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program offered through the federal CARES Act. For details regarding expanded eligibility, please visit unemploymenthelp.ohio.gov/expandedeligibility and follow our official accounts on Twitter and Facebook.
If I call an employee back to work but they refuse, what should I do?

Returning to work during the pandemic is a delicate balance of gradually re-opening the economy while providing safe working environments. ODJFS is required by law to ensure that unemployment benefits are issued in accordance with established eligibility requirements. We first encourage employers to engage in dialogue with an employee who expresses reluctance to return to work about the measures that employers are taking to help employees feel safe. It is our expectation that in most situations employers and employees will be able to work together to ensure a safe environment for employees to return to work.

The ODJFS process for determining whether to deny unemployment benefits for a refusal to return to work existed prior to the pandemic. The Return to Work Guidelines provide employer access to online reporting, which is more efficient than calling or emailing information. The analysis centers around whether good cause exists for refusing an offer of suitable work. That determination involves these factors: prior training and work experience, wages and benefits, travel distance, shift and hours, health and physical fitness, and health and safety. Also as part of the process, facts will be sought from both the employer and employee, and each party will have an opportunity to appeal the decision to the Unemployment Compensation Review Commission. Employers can learn more by going to unemployment.ohio.gov/employer and clicking on "COVID-19 Return to Work Guidelines".

Unemployment Application Process

How do I submit my WARN notification of a mass layoff?
Due to COVID-19, please email ALL WARNs and inquiries to rapdresp@jfs.ohio.gov until further notice.
What information should I provide to my employees so that they can apply for unemployment insurance?
Please distribute this Step-by-Step Guide to employees laid off because of the COVID-19 pandemic to expedite their claim process.
How should my employees apply for unemployment benefits?
Applying online is the quickest way to start receiving unemployment benefits. To apply online, employees should go to unemployment.ohio.gov. Click here for a step-by-step guide to applying online. If employees don’t have access to a computer, they can apply by phone by calling 877-644-6562. Call center hours have been extended to Monday through Friday 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., Saturdays 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sundays 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Note that it is not possible to apply for unemployment benefits in person.

Tax and Payment Implications During COVID-19

If an employee receives unemployment benefits as a result of a coronavirus-related business shutdown, will the employer's unemployment taxes increase?
For contributory employers, charges during Ohio's emergency declaration period will be mutualized. Reimbursing employers will follow existing charging requirements under Ohio Revised Code Chapter 4141.
If my employees receive unemployment benefits as a result of a coronavirus-related business shutdown, can the benefits be charged to the mutual account?
Yes, an executive order issued by Governor DeWine allows unemployment benefit charges to be mutualized for contributory employers.
If I submitted a quarterly report and/or payment late because of COVID-19, will the filing deadline be extended?

The filing deadline for first quarter 2020 reports was not extended. However, Executive Order 2020-03D waives penalties for late reporting and payments during Ohio's emergency declaration period.

Contributory Employers

For contributory employers that submit their first quarter 2020 reports and/or tax payments late, the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS) will waive the late reporting penalty and interest once the reports are filed and taxes paid in full. For reports and payments received between May 1 and July 31, 2020, ODJFS will automatically waive the late penalty and interest and not require employers to submit waivers. For reports and payments received after July 31, 2020, employers will be required to submit waiver requests. ODJFS will waive the late reporting penalty and interest once waivers are received and processed.

Please note: Tax payments must be received by July 31, 2020, to be included in the 2021 rate calculation.

Reimbursing Employers

For reimbursing employers that submit their reimbursing payments late on monthly statements from May 1, 2020, through March 31, 2021, ODJFS will automatically waive interest once full payments are received. The relief of interest is for reimbursing charges for March through December. After March 31, 2021, reimbursing employers must request waivers of interest associated with payments made in full for March through December 2020 charges. ODJFS will waive interest on late payments once waivers are received and processed.

For reimbursing employers that submit their first quarter 2020 reports late, ODJFS will waive late reporting penalties once the reports are filed. If reports are received between May 1 and July 31, 2020, ODJFS will automatically waive the late penalty and not require employers to submit waivers. If reports are received after July 31, 2020, employers will be required to submit waiver requests.

Would it be possible for me to pay my former employees a supplemental benefit payment?

Yes, you can apply for a Supplemental Unemployment Benefit (SUB) plan. Here are the requirements:

  • The request must document the plan or provide a description of the arrangement under which benefits will be paid.
  • The plan should be on letterhead and include contact information for the business. Please include the email address for a contact person.
  • The request must include a citation of legal authority verifying that the benefits would not be wages subject to unemployment tax.
  • Please submit completed plans to UCTech@jfs.ohio.gov with “SUB PLAN” in the subject line.
Is Disaster Unemployment Assistance available in Ohio?
At this time, no, but please continue to check back for updates. Additional information and support for Ohioans can be found here.
What options do I have if my business is affected by the COVID-19 quarantine besides a mass layoff?
SharedWork Ohio is a voluntary layoff aversion program. It allows workers to remain employed and employers to retain trained staff during times of reduced business activity. Under a SharedWork Ohio plan, the participating employer reduces affected employees' hours in a uniform manner. The participating employee works the reduced hours each week, and the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS) provides eligible individuals an unemployment insurance benefit proportionate to their reduced hours. For the duration of the pandemic, ODJFS is committed to reviewing and responding to all SharedWork Ohio applications within one week of receipt. Learn more here.
I’m a reimbursing employer. Will I be responsible for paying federal expanded eligibility benefits to my employees?

Section 2103 of the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act provides a 50% federal reimbursement for regular unemployment benefits paid by reimbursing employers through December 31, 2020. This reimbursement is not limited to COVID-19-related layoffs. It also will be applied to SharedWork Ohio base benefit charges. In addition, reimbursing employers are not responsible for the additional $600 per week as a part of the FPUC program.

Please note: Upon payment of the amount owed in lieu of contributions, Ohio will reimburse employers 50%. This will be reflected as a credit on your account once the funds have been received from the federal government. For example: If Employer A owes $100 for charges incurred in March, this will be reflected on the May billing statement. Once the employer pays the $100, Ohio will credit the employer's account $50. The credit will show in the future, once the federal reimbursement funds are received.

Technical Errors, Notifications and Troubleshooting

It looks like I have a new correspondence in my account. Why can’t I open it?

It may take 24 hours before you can view some correspondence. Typically, you will be able to view it once you receive an email notification that the correspondence is available. However, the high claims volume has caused delays in correspondence processing, and our system has sometimes generated email notifications before correspondence is available to view.

Additionally, if you have a correspondence that says it is a request for information, you will not be able to open it if the deadline for responding has passed.

I received a benefit determination from ODJFS for an employee who was laid off because of the pandemic. The determination stated that "beginning on 3/14/2020, the claimant was either partially or totally unemployed due to a lack of work/layoff from COVID-19 separation." That is not the date they were laid off. What should I do to correct this?
No action on your part is necessary. In order to expedite processing, this date was automatically populated for all claimants who entered the COVID-19 mass-layoff number. Claimants will be paid only for weeks when they were actually unemployed.
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