COVID-19 Update: How We Are Serving and Protecting Our Clients

Articles Tagged with Unemployment

In June, the Office of Unemployment Compensation from the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry will implement a new Unemployment Compensation system. The primary initiative of this system is to allow applicants to navigate the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry’s website easier and to complete filing for benefits more efficiently. As a result, people will be able to file claims quickly and have more time and energy to concentrate on applying for new jobs. Unemployment Compensation has been able to provide compensation payments for decades. After around 40 years of using the same system, the Department has decided to implement new changes to better suit people’s needs.

In addition to making the process of filing for weekly and biweekly claims easier, the system will also provide new features. For example, individuals will be able to access a dashboard and message professionals directly using a chat program on the website. The Office of Unemployment Compensation lists that participants will also have the capability to file a new claim, access information about claims, check the status of claims, and the ability to change options on how they can receive communication services and to withhold federal income tax. The Office also states that employers could view information as it becomes available, receive faster response times, and have expert communication about information changes. The current unemployment system sends certain information, such as hearing dates, to individuals on paper through the postal service. With the new system, people will be able to view their notifications and updates online.

The Office of Unemployment Compensation claims that the new program will transition Unemployment Compensation, Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation, Extended Benefits, Shared Work or Short-Time Compensation, and Trade Readjustment Allowances. Since the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program is provided by the CARES Act, it is considered a separate program and will remain unaffected by the change.

COVID-19 has wreaked havoc on our state, our country, and our society.  As the impacts linger and possibly increase, many employees deemed “essential” continue to put themselves at risk of exposure to the virus to fulfill societal needs.  Many companies have gone to great lengths to ensure their employees remain safe during these trying times, but some continue to lag.

If you or someone close to you has been asked to work in a hazardous or dangerous work environment, especially during this pandemic, you may have the right to decline to do certain activities, or to even work at all.  Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) should be worn whenever possible, along with other reasonable precautions.  Details about hazardous work conditions can be found at https://www.osha.gov/right-to-refuse.html.

A great example of legal action surrounding COVID-19 and workers comes from the Chicago, Illinois area.  The family of a Wal-Mart employee, who passed away due to complications from COVID-19, is suing the company because his manager ignored his symptoms and failing to let coworkers know he may have contracted the virus.  Furthermore, the suit also mentions a coworker by name who died from COVID-19 complications just 4 days later.  The family filing suit claimed employees were forced to work without gloves or masks, and social distancing requirements did not exist.  They also claim that a lack of guaranteed paid sick leave forced workers who would’ve otherwise stayed home to come into work.

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