COVID-19 Response Resources - Kansas Department of Labor

The Kansas Department of Labor recognizes the impact of COVID-19 on employers and workers alike. We are here to assist as we tackle this challenge together. We will continue to update this web page with available resources and contact information as it becomes available.

For the latest information on the COVID-19 Coronavirus, go to 
http://www.kdheks.gov/coronavirus/index.htm

NOTE May 8, 2020:  Here is a reminder for those of you who do start geting unemployment and the added stimulus payment from the federal government, William Schmidt, Director of the KLS Low Income Taxpayer Clinic, reminds you that "For those of you now receiving unemployment income, including the extra weekly $600 amount, we wanted to remind you that unemployment is included in taxable income.  You can make arrangements while receiving unemployment payments to have taxes withheld so we would advise you to do so.  We do not want people receiving unemployment payments to wind up with future problems.  If you do have tax problems in the future, we have a Low Income Taxpayer Clinic at Kansas Legal Services that can provide guidance."

 

May 12: If you are getting regular unemployement compensation, you will also get the supplement of an additional $600 a week from Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation.  Here are some questions and answers about that program.

If you are NOT getting unemployment, you may still be eligible to get unemployment compensation. The Kansas Department of Labor is now accepting applications and weekly claims for the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program at www.pua.getkansasbenefits.gov.  PUA is being rolled out in phases with the next phase being payment of the PUA benefits, which is slated to begin by May 25, 2020.


There have been 3 important changes to the Kansas Unemployment Compensation caused by the effect of the Covid 19 pandemic in Kansas:

  1. The Kansas Department of Labor will give a $600 weekly boost in  unemployment benefits.    
  2. There is also a 13-week extension of benefits which means people who have already exhausted their benefits are eligible again regardless of when your initial unemployment claim was filed.
  3. Individuals who are self-employed, seeking part-time employment, or who otherwise would not qualify for regular unemployment compensation may now be eligible for benefits. . To qualify they must not be eligible for regular unemployment benefits and be unemployed, partially unemployed, or unable or unavailable to work because of certain health or economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic.

To qualify as an independent contractor, you must prove you were directly impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, you are unable to work your job remotely and you are not receiving paid leave. If you qualify, then you can receive weekly benefits anywhere from $192 to $488 and are also eligible receive the additional $600 payment.

Your unemployment claim will be denied but in order to qualify for the program, you must prove you are ineligible for traditional unemployment programs and your denial letter in the mail is the proof you will need later. You will also need to continue to file weekly claims, even though they’ll be denied. The state still does not know when this new program will start producing money for self-employed workers but it will be backdated to March 29 and be paid in full when the money arrives.

Additionally, under the new guidelines, there is more flexibility in determining whether someone is “actively seeking work” if they are unable to search for work because of COVID-19, including because of illness, quarantine, or movement restrictions. Given the current “stay at home” orders, this should not be an issue I gaining unemployment compensation.

The amount of the benefit will vary based upon the amount of money that the individual has previously earned, but will be between $122 and $488 per week. In 2020, the average weekly payment in Kansas has been $390 but that figure will be increased by an extra $600 a week, under the coronavirus relief bill.

WORKERS

Individual Filing for Unemployment Insurance Benefits
Unemployment insurance benefits may be available to individuals who are involuntarily unemployed as a result of COVID-19. The amount of the benefit will vary based upon the amount of money that the individual has previously earned, but will be between $122 and $488 per week.  At this time, individuals can receive up to a maximum of 16 weeks of benefits.

You can view video tutorials on the application process, what to do after filing an initial claim, and more at www.dol.ks.gov/tutorials.

To file for unemployment insurance benefits, visit www.getkansasbenefits.gov, and click on the button at the top of the page titled EASY.FAST.SECURE. Get Started Here.

Question: I work cleaning houses.  My sister works as a hairdresser.  When I try to apply for Unemployment, it asks for my employer and I don't have one.  I am self employed.  I file taxes as self employed. (another term used is Independent Contractor).  I can't work. What can I do to get income right now?

You have two options.  You may qualify for an SBA, foregivable loan equal to two month of your earnings in 2019.  If you use the money for salary and benefits for yourself or for rent payments during the 8 weeks after you get the loan, it is foregiven (you don't have to pay it back).   You should read the rules about this and not rely on the simple statement here.  You can learn more about this by clicking here.  You apply for this loan through your BANK, not the SBA.  Your bank can give you a worksheet about what information they need you to gather.  You may have heard that the money has run out, but more money has been put in and you should consider applying through your bank. If you intend to apply for this money, you should do so as soon as possible since we do not know how long it will last.

The other option is Pandemic Unemployment Assistance for independent contractors.  In Kansas, you will be able to apply for this money through the Department of Labor.  Unfortunately, they are still working on creating the application and it will be some weeks before you can apply.  You should check the Department of Labor website to see when they are accepting applications. 

When you are approved, you will be able to get back benefits.  You should also file now for regular Unemployment Insurance.  You will be denied, but that has to occur before you can apply for the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance.  You should also gather your proof of earning for 2019 and 2020.  You will need this when you apply. You can get this even if you have some earnings.  Unemployment is designed to make up the difference.  

You can't keep the money from both programs.  Only one or the other.  The Pandemic Unemployment Assistance might be more money because of the extra $600 a week that has been added to the amount you get based on your earnings.  But,you will have to wait several weeks for that money to be available

Wage and Hour Questions
The USDOL Wage and Hour Division provides information on common issues employers and employees may face when responding in responding to COVID-19 as they relate to the Fair Labor Standards Act and the Family and Medical Leave Act at www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/pandemic.

Unemployment Insurance and COVID-19 Fact Sheet

EMPLOYERS

Workplace Safety
First and foremost, we are dedicated to ensuring the safety of Kansas employers and workers.  The United States Department of Labor (USDOL) Occupational Safety and Health Association (OSHA) provides practical guidance on how to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 at www.dol.gov/newsroom/releases/osha/osha20200309.

OSHA also has a COVID-19 webpage with numerous valuable resources, which can be accessed at www.osha.gov/SLTC/covid-19/.

Shared Work
Businesses may be exploring reducing production as a result of supply chain challenges related to COVID-19.  The Shared Work Program is an excellent tool to use in lieu of a temporary, total layoff of employees. It allows for partial work week and partial unemployment benefits to employees. To participate, normal weekly work hours for employees must be reduced by 20% (no more than 40%) and apply to at least 10% of employees.

For more information, visit www.dol.ks.gov/employers/shared-work-program or email KDOL.SharedWork@ks.gov.

Spreadsheet Filing for Unemployment Insurance
Some businesses may be forced to temporarily lay off employees due to COVID-19.  Those employers can assist their employees with filing an application for Unemployment Benefits. This process allows the employer to submit the application for unemployment insurance benefits for employees who are impacted by a layoff due to COVID-19.  Employers who utilize this option will have the ability to communicate directly with the Employer Relations Administrator instead of waiting to speak with a representative at the Unemployment Contact Center. Additionally, instead of receiving an Employer Notice for each employee that files for unemployment insurance benefits, the employer will receive one listing of all claims filed off the spreadsheet.

To learn more, contact:
Maureen Reynolds
Employer Relations Administrator
Kansas Department of Labor
Maureen.Reynolds@ks.gov

 

Updated 05/08/2020.

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