On March 16, 2020, Georgia Labor Commissioner Mark Butler implemented an emergency rule relating to unemployment benefits during the COVID-19 pandemic crisis. The emergency rule requires Georgia employers to file partial claims online on behalf of their employees for any week during which an employee (full-time or part-time) works less than his or her regular full-time or part-time schedule due to a partial or total company shutdown caused by the COVID-19 public health emergency. Employers that do not file partial claims under this emergency rule will be liable to the Georgia Department of Labor (DOL) for the full amount of benefits paid to the employee. The emergency rule also waives the Georgia DOL’s unemployment insurance work search requirements for all claims filed on or after March 14, 2020. This emergency rule is in effect for 120 days (until July 14, 2020) or until the Georgia DOL adopts a subsequent rule, whichever comes first.
The Georgia DOL has also provided the following information regarding the filing of partial claims:
- An employer must file a partial claim for each pay period. A week of partial unemployment consists of an employer’s established pay period week. Once a pay period is established, it should remain the same.
- Accurately report the employee’s name, Social Security number, and date of birth. They must match the Social Security Administration’s records.
- There must be seven days between payment week ending dates.
- Do not submit claims until after the week ending date on the claim. The Georgia DOL cannot accept claims filed prior to the week ending date on the claim.
- Report any vacation pay, holiday pay, and/or earnings during the week in which it was earned, not during the week it was paid to the employee.
- Report any additional income employees are receiving to the Georgia DOL, except Social Security benefits, jury duty income, and pay for weekend military reserve duty.
Generally, an employer must submit partial claims for workers who are temporarily laid off due to the COVID-19 public health crisis, but not for employees who:
- are on a scheduled/customary vacation, a scheduled/customary plant shutdown, or a scheduled/customary plant closure;
- are employed by a temporary agency and are currently working at the employer’s place of business;
- were employed in another state in the last 18 months;
- are 1099 employees;
- are voluntarily out of work, e.g., quit, requested leaves of absence, self-quarantined, etc.;
- have been permanently separated from the company; or
- were employed with the federal government or on active military service in the last 18 months.
Employers will need the following information for each employee:
- Social Security number;
- Work authorization information for non-citizens;
- Date of birth;
- Whether or not they want federal and/or state taxes withheld; and
For earnings, report gross wages—amount of pay before deductions—for any work the employee performed during the week for which the employer is filing. Report any vacation pay, holiday pay, and/or earnings during the week in which it was earned, NOT during the week it was paid to the employee. Report any additional income employees are receiving to the GDOL, except Social Security benefits, jury duty income, and pay for weekend military reserve duty.
All claims (partial or otherwise) must be filed online, as the Georgia DOL has closed its career centers to the public beginning Wednesday, March 18, 2020. Unemployment benefits are paid on a weekly basis. All weekly earnings over $50 are deducted dollar for dollar from the benefit payment. Except as modified by the emergency rule, all other Georgia Department of Labor rules and requirements remain in place.
Importantly, employers must complete Georgia DOL Form 800 (Separation Notice) for any permanent (not temporary) individual separation and Georgia DOL Form 402 (Mass Separation Notice) for any permanent (not temporary) mass separation (i.e., 25 or more workers separated on the same day for the same reason). The Georgia DOL has also issued an Employer Filed (Partial) Clams Desk-Aid. On March 26, 2020, the Georgia DOL implemented two additional emergency rules on partial unemployment claims during the COVID-19 crisis.
Ogletree Deakins will continue to monitor and report on developments with respect to the COVID-19 pandemic and will post updates in the firm’s Coronavirus (COVID-19) Resource Center as additional information becomes available. Critical information for employers is also available via the firm’s webinar programs.