Employer Costs and Massachusetts Unemployment Benefits During COVID-19

April 2, 2020


The Massachusetts Department of Unemployment Assistance has issued emergency alerts clarifying how the normal unemployment benefits program is modified during the COVID-19 emergency.

If my employees’ hours are reduced but they are still on the payroll, can they receive Massachusetts unemployment benefits? Yes. Employees whose hours have been reduced but are still on the payroll may nevertheless get partial Massachusetts unemployment benefits during the COVID-19 emergency. The federal subsidy is added to whatever the state pays.

How can the cost to the business of providing group medical benefits be defrayed? Businesses with under 500 employees that take SBA COVID-19 paycheck protection loans during the emergency may pay for group medical insurance with those loans. If various criteria are met, the loan can be forgiven.

What is the maximum period for Massachusetts unemployment benefits? Massachusetts unemployment benefits can continue up to 26 weeks during a year.

Can employees of an employer that has temporarily shut down because of the COVID-19 emergency qualify for Massachusetts unemployment benefits? Yes. Workers who are temporarily unemployed due to lack of work because of COVID-19 will be eligible for unemployment benefits. They will be considered unemployed due to lack of work regardless of whether they are quarantined, laid off, furloughed, or if their workplace is fully or partially shut down temporarily.

Are self-employed individuals and independent contractors eligible for Massachusetts unemployment benefits? As of April 2nd 2020, no — self-employed individuals and independent contractors are not eligible.

Answers to frequently asked questions about filing for unemployment during the COVID-19 emergency can be found here.

View the full article on COVID Considerations here.

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