Lawmakers agreed to a significant expansion of the unemployment insurance program with the CARES Act. Additional compensation, extensions, and assistance for self-employed individuals are all coming. We are working with our partners at U.S. Department of Labor for further details so we can implement the changes. We are working as quickly as possible to provide support for Idahoans. Continue to view the Unemployment Insurance COVID-19 FAQs for up-to-date information.
Updated and new FAQs are noted with the date.
FAQs for Employers
Will workers qualify for unemployment benefits if the coronavirus (COVID-19) causes an employer to temporarily or permanently shut down operations?
Unemployment insurance (UI) benefits are available to individuals who are unemployed through no fault of their own. If an employer shuts down operations and no work is available or reduces an individual’s hours due to a drop in business, we would consider this a lay off due to lack of work and the individual may be eligible for benefits. Anyone can apply for benefits, and we will evaluate the individual merits. If there is a situation not covered by these FAQs, the individual may want to file a claim and we will evaluate the circumstances to determine eligibility. Individuals do not need to call us before filing the claim. Click here for more information.
How do workers file for UI?
Anyone can file online at labor.idaho.gov/claimantportal. If claimants require assistance or do not have access to a computer, they may call our claims center at (208) 332-8942. Click here for filing information.
UPDATED April 9: If an employee receives unemployment benefits as a result of a coronavirus-related business shutdown, will my unemployment insurance account be charged?
It depends. Part of Gov. Brad Little’s emergency proclamation provides that experience rated employers (most businesses) will not be charged for unemployment claims attributed to COVID-19. There is also a 50 percent reduction in proportionate costs for cost reimbursed employers (non-profit and government employers). There is no need to protest your chargeability determination at this time. Additional information about tax relief for employers from the IRS is available here: https://www.irs.gov/coronavirus.
Updated April 3: Will my employees be required to look for work if I had to temporarily or permanently shut down operations for work because of coronavirus (COVID-19)?
It depends. If they are unemployed due to COVID-19 related reasons and you are plan on having them return to work, they are not required to register for work or seek work. They will need to answer ‘yes’ to the question asking if they are returning to work on the UI application. If they are not returning with you, they will be required complete two work search activities per week. Click here for more information.
NEW April 3: How can a company get workers back if they are considered attached and the company opens back up but the employees would prefer to get UI instead?
First, be sure you communicate the expectation to return to work with as much detail as possible at the time they become separated. Then, ensure they were clearly instructed to come back — speak with them, send an email to the email address, text them, etc. Then, let the Labor Department know who didn’t come back — that person is missing available work and would need a qualifying reason to do so (either a personal compelling reason or an illness, and even then it has to be less than 1/2 of their weekly benefit amount).
NEW April 9: I am unable to respond to department’s requests for information within the protest deadline.
Part of Gov. Brad Little’s emergency proclamation provides an additional 14 days for employers and claimants to protest determinations made by the department. Please submit the information as instructed, despite the untimely response.
Can employees work part time and receive unemployment?
Yes. They can receive some or all of their weekly unemployment payment if they work part time. Gross earnings must be reported on the weekly certification during the week earned (not when paid). Click here to learn how the wages affect unemployment payments.
Is there a calculator that can show them how much employees can expect in unemployment benefits in advance of applying?
Yes. The claimant must log into the Claimant Portal. They can access their projected benefit amount once they complete their personal information and their identity is verified.
UPDATED March 30: Are independent contractors or self-employed workers covered?
Yes. The CAREs Act expanded the unemployment insurance program to include Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA). This program allows payment for self-employed individuals who are not eligible for regular benefits. We are working with U.S. Department of Labor to implement these changes, which could take several weeks. Workers should apply for benefits online at labor.idaho.gov/claimantportal and continue to submit weekly certifications. They should enter their work history on the online application as self-employment. We will inform claimants of any changes that will potentially affect their unemployment benefit claim.
UPDATED March 31: How long will workers receive benefits?
Amounts and duration of weeks depend on the claimant’s earnings. Amounts range from $72 to 448 per week from 10-20 weeks. The CAREs Act includes Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC). This program extends regular benefits when claimants exhaust funds. We are working with the U.S. Department of Labor to implement these changes, which could take several weeks. Claimants should continue to submit weekly certifications, even if they have exhaust benefits.
* How long does it take for someone to receive their first payment?
It depends. First payments can range from 1 to 10 weeks, depending on pending issues requiring additional information to determine eligibility.
UPDATED April 6: I heard about an additional $600 more per week? When does this start?
The CAREs Act includes Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC), which adds an additional $600 to each claimant’s weekly payment. This is effective for weeks claimed with the week ending April 4, 2020, but we need additional guidance from the U.S. Department of Labor as well as to make programming changes which could take several weeks. Claimants who are eligible will receive their regular weekly benefit amount now, and the $600 retroactively when we get it programmed.
Is the waiting period waived?
Yes. The governor’s emergency proclamation waived the waiting week for claims filed on or after 3/8/2020 until further notice. There are no provisions to waive the waiting week for claims filed prior to 3/8/2020.
* Is the coronavirus considered a disaster, and can I receive Disaster Unemployment Assistance?
President Donald Trump has declared the coronavirus a national disaster, but at this time there has been no Disaster Unemployment Assistance declaration. Find out about low-interest economic disaster loans for small businesses at the Small Business Administration website: https://www.sba.gov/disaster-assistance/coronavirus-covid-19.
* If there is a separation due to the coronavirus, am I required to pay accrued vacation/PTO or sick pay?
It depends. Idaho law does not require the payment of vacation, holiday or sick pay. These items are agreed upon between the employer and the employee. If there is any change in a policy, the employee must be notified prior to the change. For U.S. Department of Labor Wage and Hour guidance on issues around COVID-19, its effects on wages and hours worked under the Fair Labor Standards Act and job-protected leave under the Family and Medical Leave Act, visit: https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/pandemic.
NEW April 6: If I share part of my businesses stimulus package with my employees, will it impact their unemployment benefits?
Yes. This is reportable income categorized as ‘other income,’ and reportable in the week they receive it.