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Alabama announces support for workers impacted by COVID-19 

Alabama Department of Labor Secretary Fitzgerald Washington has announced Alabama workers who are not able to work because of COVID-19 will be eligible to file for unemployment benefits. 

Based on current guidance from the U.S. Department of Labor, the ADOL is modifying existing unemployment compensation rules to allow a number of workers to file a claim for unemployment compensation benefits. Workers who qualify include those who are affected in any of the following ways:  

  • Those who are quarantined by a medical professional or a government agency
  • Those who are laid off or sent home without pay for an extended period by their employer because of COVID-19 concerns
  • Those who are diagnosed with COVID-19
  • Those who are caring for an immediate family member who is diagnosed with COVID-19

The requirement that a laid-off worker be “able and available” to work while receiving unemployment compensation benefits has been modified for claimants who are affected by COVID-19 in any of the situations listed above.  

Additionally, claimants will not have to search for other work, provided they take reasonable steps to preserve their ability to come back to that job when the quarantine is lifted or the illness subsides. 

The waiting week, which is typically the first week of compensable benefits, will also be waived.  

According to the ADOL, certain criteria and exceptions might apply and are subject to change. For instance, verification of illness or quarantine might be required.   

Washington noted people who are being paid to work from home, or those receiving paid sick or vacation leave, are not eligible for unemployment compensation benefits, regardless of whether they experience any or all of the situations listed above. 

“We understand we are entering a difficult time for workers and employers,” said Washington. “We want to help those who might be temporarily financially impacted by helping them to replace some of their lost income while being unable to work.”

Gov. Kay Ivey echoed Washington’s sentiments, saying the state stands ready “to assist Alabama’s workers in any way we possibly can.”

“Many changes are happening quickly with regards to Alabama’s workforce,” Ivey said, “and it’s important to ensure we are offering as many available options to those who find themselves in different employment situations.”

Workers can file for benefits online at www.labor.alabama.gov or by calling 1-866-234-5382, beginning March 23. Online filing is encouraged.

“We are working with both federal and state government,” Washington added, “to ensure that we are doing all that we can to help ease the burden during a potentially trying time.” 

The ADOL notes employers who decide to shut down because of causes related to COVID-19 should treat the shutdown as a temporary layoff.   

Unemployment compensation rules are subject to change pending congressional action.

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