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CARES Act Expands and Extends Jobless Benefits

The Coronavirus Aid, Recovery, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) was signed into law on March 27, 2020. The CARES Act delivers approximately $2 trillion in emergency aid to businesses and individuals suffering the economic fallout from the 2019 novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

The aid package contains a variety of measures aimed at improving businesses’ cash flow, including tax relief and loans.

The CARES Act also expands unemployment benefits in a number of meaningful ways:

  • For states that agree to waive the normal seven day waiting period, the federal government will pay the full cost of the first week of benefits. In Wisconsin, Governor Evers has asked the legislature to waive the waiting period, but the legislature has not yet acted.

  • In states that agree, a lump sum of $600 (funded by the federal government) will be added to employees’ maximum weekly benefit through July 31, 2020. Wisconsin’s maximum weekly benefit is currently $370, which means the enhanced maximum weekly benefit in Wisconsin will temporarily increase to $970.

  • An additional 13 weeks of extended unemployment benefits (for a total of 39 weeks in Wisconsin) are available for employees unemployed or underemployed due to certain COVID-19-related reasons. These extended benefits are available to employees who have exhausted or are otherwise ineligible for regular unemployment benefits, and self-certification requirements apply. Extended benefits are not available to employees who are able to telework or who are receiving other paid leave from their employer.

The economic disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has forced, and will continue to force, employers to resort to a variety of less than ideal mitigation actions to keep their businesses afloat. To the extent these actions result in a temporary or permanent loss of employment, or significant reduction in employee hours, the CARES Act offers a temporary additional cushion to those seeking enhanced unemployment benefits through their state unemployment agency.

Copyright © 2020 Godfrey & Kahn S.C.

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About this Author

Annie Eiden Labor & Employment Attorney
Shareholder

Annie Eiden is a shareholder in the Green Bay office and is a member of both the Labor & Employment and Litigation Practice Groups.

Her practice focuses on employment litigation and she regularly represents employers in disputes before federal and state courts and administrative agencies. She also counsels employers with respect to discipline and termination decisions, reductions in force, employment policies, employment and separation agreements and wage and hour issues.

Annie earned her law degree, magna cum laude, from the University of Minnesota Law School in...

920-436-7691
Aaron McCann, Godfrey Kahn Law Firm, Labor and Employment Attorney
Associate

Aaron McCann is an associate in the firm’s Green Bay office and a member of the Labor, Employment & Immigration Practice Group. Aaron’s practice is focused on counseling and advocating for employers through all aspects of an employment relationship, beginning with issues in recruitment and hiring at the outset and continuing through severance discussions, termination, and, when necessary, post-employment litigation. Aaron has guided many clients through the wide array of legal issues that frequently arise at the end of employment and has represented clients in federal and state court and in administrative proceedings before the Wisconsin Equal Rights Division and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Prior to joining Godfrey & Kahn, Aaron was an associate attorney at a Milwaukee area law firm. Aaron also previously served as an in-house law clerk for a major U.S. corporation, a Judicial Intern for Justice N. Patrick Crooks, Wisconsin Supreme Court, and as Deputy Director of then-Wisconsin Governor James E. Doyle’s Washington, D.C. office.

920-436-7671