Resources available during mass layoffs


By Jennifer Woods - jwoods@aimmediamidwest.com



There are current resources to help businesses and individuals during the COVID-19 pandemic — the following information was collected from the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (Ohio Department of JFS) and the Fayette County Department of Job and Family Services (FCDJFS).

The Ohio Department of JFS has an online question and answer forum to help those in Ohio understand Coronavirus and Unemployment Insurance Benefits, which are updated regularly at www.jfs.ohio.gov/ouio/CoronavirusAndUI.stm.

Employers are being asked to distribute a form to employees laid off due to the COVID-19 pandemic in order to expedite their claim process. This form can be found at www.odjfs.state.oh.us/forms/num/JFS00671/pdf/.

The questions and answers as of March 18 are as follows:

How do I apply for unemployment insurance?

File online at www.unemployment.ohio.gov 24 hours/day, seven days/week.

Service may be limited during nightly system updating. Check the website for available services. Please be sure to follow the instructions. If you do not have access to a computer, visit your local library or OhioMeansJobs Center where computers are available for public use.

Call toll-free 1-877-644-6562 or TTY 1-614-387-8408, (excluding holidays) Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

*At this time, both the local library and OhioMeansJobs Center in Fayette County are closed. Some locations in the county do offer free wifi that community members could potentially connect to from outside the building with a personal or borrowed device. If any such business or entity would like to reach out to the Record-Herald if you can assist in this way, that information will be shared in a follow-up article.

To apply for Unemployment Insurance Benefits, you will need:

Your Social Security number, driver’s license or state ID number, name, address, telephone number and e-mail address, dates of employment with each employer you worked for during the past 6 weeks of employment, the reason you became unemployed from each employer, your regular occupation and job skills, dependents’ names, Social Security numbers and dates of birth.

If claiming dependents, your spouse’s name, Social Security number and birth date

If you are not a U.S. citizen or national, alien registration number and expiration date.

If you had out-of-state employment, have worked for the federal government, or are separated from military service, more information is required, including:

Form DD-214, member 4 copy (for military service), SF-8 or SF-50 form (for federal government employment)

Once your application has been filed:

You will receive further information by mail or e-mail. E-mail will be sent from OJI@odjfs.state.oh.us.

Your claim will be assigned to a Processing Center, based on the last four digits of the your Social Security number.

If filing online and you need your Personal Identification Number (PIN) reset, please call toll-free 1-866-962-4064.

Will workers qualify for unemployment benefits if the coronavirus (COVID-19) causes an employer to shut down operations?

An executive order issued by Governor DeWine expands flexibility for Ohioans to receive unemployment benefits during Ohio’s emergency declaration period. Unemployment benefits will be available for eligible individuals who are requested by a medical professional, local health authority, or employer to be isolated or quarantined as a consequence of COVID-19, even if they are not actually diagnosed with COVID-19. In addition, the waiting period for eligible Ohioans to receive unemployment benefits will be waived.

If an employer lays off employees due to the loss of production caused by the coronavirus, will the employees be eligible for unemployment insurance benefits?

Yes, if the employees are otherwise eligible. An executive order issued by Governor DeWine expands flexibility for Ohioans to receive unemployment benefits during Ohio’s emergency declaration period.

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 an employee receives 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. In addition, the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services will waive penalties for late reporting and payments during Ohio’s emergency declaration period.

If an asymptomatic employee imposes a self-quarantine because of the coronavirus, will they be eligible for unemployment benefits?

In most cases, no. Unemployment benefits are available to individuals who are totally or partially unemployed due to no fault of their own. In this example, the individual-not the employer-is choosing not to work and, therefore, would be ineligible. However, the facts of each circumstance are important. If the employer allowed this individual to telework, they would not qualify for benefits because they would not be unemployed. If the employer required the individual to stay home but did not offer telework, the individual might be eligible for benefits if they met the monetary and weekly eligibility criteria.

If an employee is in mandatory quarantine because of suspicion of having the coronavirus, will they be eligible for unemployment benefits?

Yes, an executive order issued by Governor DeWine states that employees who are quarantined are considered to be unemployed.

If the coronavirus creates a situation that causes an employer to submit quarterly reports and/or payments late, will the filing deadline be extended?

Yes, an executive order issued by Governor DeWine waives penalties for late reporting and payments during Ohio’s emergency declaration period.

What is unemployment insurance impact on tipped workers?

That depends how the employer reported the employee’s wages. If the employer reported tips as part of the employees wage, it would be reflected on their tax reporting and therefore the UI benefit would be based on wage with tips. If the employer did not include tips in the wage, the employee will need to file an affidavit with their tipped wages for ODJFS to review.

Are self-employed individuals who have experienced a downturn in their businesses due to COVID-19 eligible for unemployment benefits?

It depends. Self-employed individuals who have been solely self-employed for the last year or more may not meet the monetary requirements to establish a claim because the wages they earned from self-employment are not considered “covered” under unemployment law.

Local — Fayette County Department of Job and Family Services (FCDJFS)

The FCDJFS lobby is closed until further notice however, the agency’s normal hours of operation are ongoing so members of the community can continue to be served. This choice was made as Gov. Mike DeWine urged all those doing business with Job and Family Services agencies during the Covid-19 pandemic to conduct that business via phone, email or online.

Please note that unemployment benefits cannot be requested through the local department, it must be requested through the Ohio Department of JFS.

The following information explains how services can be accessed at this current time with FCDJFS:

Documents of any kind can be sent by email to Fayette_cdjfs@jfs.ohio.gov, by fax to 740-333-3572, via one of two Drop Boxes located inside the lobby doors and on the Main Street entrance at the alley. There are limited forms located inside the lobby.

FCDJFS Child Support services can be accessed through the child support web portal, wwwjfs.ohio.gov/Ocs/CustServWebPortalWelcome2.stm, or by calling either 1-800-922-0745 or 740-335-0745. If you do not have an online account, see the agency handout (located inside the lobby) on how to create and use the portal.

Protective services, such as children and adult protective services, staff will remain accessible during normal business hours and will continue to provide emergent on-call coverage 24 hours a day, seven days a week. To speak with protective staff, please call 740-335-0350.

To apply, renew or make changes for cash, food or medical assistance, go to www.benefits.ohio.gov/. For case questions, you can call 740-335-0350, 740-313-0249 or 740-313-0228. If you have internet access you can obtain forms on www.odjfs.state.oh.us/forms/ and utilize www.ohiomeansjobs.com.

This information was collected from the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services website, www.jfs.ohio.gov/, along with a press release from the Fayette County Department of Job and Family services.

Reach Jennifer Woods at 740-313-0355 or on Twitter @JennMWoods.

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By Jennifer Woods

jwoods@aimmediamidwest.com