Georgia Department of Labor Has Adopted Emergency Rule on Filing Partial Claims|
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Even with the coronavirus relief bill now passed and signed by the President, many states are still taking matters into their own hands to ensure their citizens and businesses are protected. One of the most looming questions concerns employee access to unemployment benefits and the burden that individual employers will bear.
While many states are taking a more lenient approach to the claims process for unemployment benefits, such as North Carolina, who eased restrictions via an Executive Order, Georgia seems to be taking the opposite approach.
In a communication distributed Wednesday, March 18, 2020, the Georgia Department of Labor (GDOL) announced they have adopted an emergency rule (Rule 300-2-4-0.5) with new mandates for filing partial claims. According to the GDOL, employers must now file partial claims on behalf of any employees whose hours were reduced due to a partial or total company shutdown caused by the coronavirus public health emergency. This applies to full- or part-time employees whose hours were reduced to less than full-time employment. Furthermore, to remain in accordance with calls for social distancing, employers should also file these partial claims online. GDOL provided detailed instructions for filing these claims in a downloadable resource called How Employers File Partial Claims Desk-Aid.
Filing partial claims on behalf of your employees in a timely manner has significant benefits for the employee. It ensures they receive their unemployment insurance benefit as quickly as possible without requiring the employee to report to a GDOL center to register for services. It also nullifies the requirement for the employee to actively seek other work.
Additionally, the communication included clear guidelines than any employer who violates this new rule will be required to reimburse GDOL for the full amount of unemployment insurance benefits paid to an employee. For employers that are not aware of these penalties, the potential ramifications could be devastating, especially for restaurant proprietors that are being hit particularly hard by closures and loss of business during the pandemic.
For these reasons, you should carefully evaluate whether seeking unemployment insurance benefits is the best option for your employees during this uncertain time, and you should be proactive in filing any necessary claims. If you have questions about making this decision or about the necessary compliance measures, contact your Aprio Relationship Partner and legal counsel.