On April 7, 2020, South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster issued Executive Order 2020-22. This order allows employers to provide furloughed employees with additional monetary assistance in the form of COVID-19 Support Payments while the impacted individuals are receiving unemployment insurance benefits. Prior to the issuance of the executive order, the receipt of such funds would have disqualified an impacted individual from receiving unemployment benefits in a week in which any such funds were received.
To take part in the COVID-19 Support Payments program, an employer must take certain steps:
- Submit a COVID-19 Support Payment Plan Application to the South Carolina Department of Employment and Workforce (DEW) prior to making such payments. Submitting a plan involves submitting the completed form electronically to firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Certify that the voluntary payments do not constitute “wages,” as that term is defined under South Carolina law. To meet these criteria:
- the payment must be made in response to furloughing an employee;
- the payment must be for services rendered by the employee in the past;
- the employee (or the employee’s estate) must not be obligated to repay the payment; and
- the payment must not require the employee to perform or not perform any act in connection with his or her status as an employee.
- Identify if the payment will be a one-time lump sum or on-going weekly payments.
- File unemployment insurance claims on behalf of any impacted employee who is in receipt of a COVID-19 Support Payment under the existing employer-filed unemployment claims process.
While a COVID-19 Support Payment may be made prior to plan approval by DEW, payments that are not in compliance with the above criteria may impact employee eligibility for unemployment benefits.
Executive Order 2020-22 will “remain in effect for the duration of the State of Emergency unless otherwise modified, amended, or rescinded by subsequent Order.”
Additional information regarding COVID-19 payment plans in South Carolina can be found on the DEW website.
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.