Unemployment Coronavirus

Coronavirus: Your right to unemployment benefits

Elizabeth Schlager

The global COVID-19 pandemic brought some trying times for many people in many industries. If you are one of the workers who fear losing their job due to an economic recess or company closings due to the coronavirus, questions on your future may arise. We are here to give you an overview on your potential measures and possible solutions, if you already have or fear to lose your job. Is unemployment available to you? How can I apply? We are here to shed some light on how to make it through this time with as little stress as possible.

When are you eligible for unemployment benefits

The Labor Department reported 281,000 new claims1 for unemployment insurance last week, a one-third increase over the previous week that it attributed to the coronavirus pandemic. Are you and in which cases are you eligible for unemployment benefits? Eligible are:

  • Workers who become unemployed through no fault of their own 
  • Whose previous employment lasted 12 months
  • Whose status of availability is actively looking for a job

You can be eligible for unemployment if you quit your job as well, but only under certain conditions that are deemed as “good causes” for quitting1:

  •  The employer’s refusal or failure to pay you earned wages,
  •  An unsafe working environment,
  •  Repeated and severe verbal or physical harassment,
  •  A demand by your employer to engage in illegal conduct,
  •  Caring for a family member, or
  •  Lack of transportation to and from work.

Is there a difference between full-time vs part-time?

A question that is on many workers’ minds, is related to part-time work. It tends to happen that part-time employees are in general not offered the same benefits and policies as FTEs (full-time employees), and this has many part-time workers worried about their potential loss of income, not only due to the coronavirus.

Should you get laid off from a part-time job, you still may be eligible for benefits, if:

  • You worked enough hours or made enough money during the time your state uses to compute your benefit. (Quantity of hours depends on company and state.)
  • You are working more than one part-time job and still keep one of the jobs, you might be eligible for unemployment, as long as your remaining job doesn’t pay more than the minimum amount your state pays for a weekly benefit.

Are you eligible if you lose your job due to coronavirus?

Especially if you have a risky job, like being a gig- worker, a substitute teacher or work a daycare facility, you may face the possibility of losing your job if your industry has to shut down. Under normal circumstances, the previous law would apply. In regards to the coronavirus, the same rules for eligibility apply. If you are eligible under normal circumstances, then you are just as eligible during these times of COVID-19. Make also sure to check your state’s unemployment policies and regulations. Federal law allows for decent flexibility for states to shift their laws in order to accommodate unemployment insurance benefits in several situations related to COVID-19. For example, federal law provides state flexibility to pay benefits where:

  • An employer temporarily stops work due to COVID-19, preventing employees from coming
  • An individual is quarantined with the expectation of coming back to work after the quarantine is over
  • An individual quits due to a risk of exposure or infection or to care for a family member

Plus: There is a new stimulus bill passed by the U.S Senate, that allows cash assistance for regular Americans. This bill includes student loan payments being suspended, REAL ID deadlines delayed, an additional boost for unemployment benefits plus direct payments to individuals unter certain conditions. The Bill is supposed to be passed hy the House on Friday.

Find more information about Coronavirus and work here: 

Job insecurity over COVID-19: should you quit?

In terms of unemployment benefits you are only eligible if you get fired. Yet, you don’t need to wait it out with your hands tight. If you anticipate that in the following recess and process of lockdown you may lose your job, you are open to search for gig-jobs that will have you covered once you lose your first job. Be proactive.

The following Industries are hiring right now and might be interesting for you to take a look in:

·     Healthcare
·    Shipping and Delivery
·    Online Learning Platforms
·    Grocery Stores
·    Remote Meeting Companies
·    Communication Sector

Try out some online courses or videos that explain and aid the transition into the different types of work. Adapting is key, and there is no reason to believe you can’t continue to excel. If you want to know how to write an excellent cover letter when switching careers, we got you covered as well.

Do you qualify for the new a $2 trillion stimulus bill?

Besides unemployment benefits, insurance or unemployment assistance, there is another way to get governmental support.

Congress has just passed a $2 trillion stimulus bill to support individuals, which includes direct payments from 1,200 for singles and 2,400 for couples, plus 500 each child. You qualifiy for a stimulus check if you have not earned more than $99.000 in 2019 as a single person, or earned more than198,000 as a couple. The size of the check will also decrease if you have earned over $75.000 in 2019. If you do not receive Social Security Support but your income is under the average, you have to file for 2019 tax refund to get a stimulus check.

The amount can vary depending on your personal situation, but there is a calculator helping to to determine how much you can expect.

How to file for unemployment

Should it come to the point that you lose your job, it is important to keep your next moves in mind. You can file claims in person, online or by phone, but that all depends on your state. You should contact your state’s unemployment insurance program as soon as possible after becoming unemployed.

Some standard procedure rules for that are:

  • File your claim with the state where you worked.
  • Should you have worked in multiple states, the state unemployment insurance agency where you now live can provide information.
  • Have specific information available, like addresses and dates of your former employment. Make sure your claim is not pushed back, be sure to inform correctly.

5 things to do while searching for a new job

Should it happen that you are in between jobs due to the coronavirus, this is no reason to panic or sink your head into a hole. There is a lot you can do in that time that will be beneficial for both your future job and future self. We have some ideas.

Spruce up your CV

Now is as good of a time as any to check up on your CV and your social media profiles and see what you can do to spice it up. Maybe get rid of some no longer relevant information, change up the font or add new endeavors. It is anyway incredibly important to keep everything good and fresh, so it’s a great idea to use this time to do that. This is especially true if you are looking for jobs in a newer field and want your CV to represent the new you. By the way, you can also prepare yourself for upcoming interviews.

Try out a new skill

There is always something you have been meaning to try out, or that one course you took in college or high school that made you want to pursue it more. Now is the time to do that and try to learn a skill that might help you in the future. Maybe this relates to a new job idea or prospect. There are endless amounts of free resources online that can help you learn the basics of anything you put your mind to.

Read more

There is no such thing as knowing too much or reading too much. It is, of course, of benefit to read a lot about things related to future goals or information you could acquire about job related topics. Either way, read as much as you can.

Sync your mind and body

It is very easy to fall into a funk while in between jobs, especially during a crisis. Staying healthy in your mind and body will be the driving force that finds you the next great job. Eating well and exercising are the cornerstones of a table body and mind. Take up cooking and think of new and fulfilling healthy recipes that make you excited. (It’s also a great way to pass time during self-isolation.) Find new and innovative ways to stay moving to keep your mind at ease. Yoga is a fantastic way to do that, and it can be done from your living room floor.


Especially during self-isolation, it is obviously not very easy to come by people. This doesn’t mean, however, that there is no way to network with people to help find you the next best job. Social media has made that much easier and try to be on the constant look-out for people who could be on the same career path and page as you. Talk to some old colleagues or add some new connections on your business platforms. You will be surprised how big of a difference that makes.


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U.S Department of Labor