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Nebraska Emergency Unemployment Insurance Benefit Relief for Employees and Employers

03.18.2020

The ongoing spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus is continuing to cause hardship and concern for many employees and employers as organizations work to mitigate the damage the virus is causing to their workplace and business.  In an effort to reduce the burden on employees and employers, Governor Ricketts signed Executive Order No. 20-04, Corona Virus – Emergency Unemployment Insurance Benefit Relief, on March 17, 2020 (the “Executive Order”).

The Executive Order provides relief to employees who find themselves in an unpaid status as a result of COVID-19’s impact on the business of their employer.  Effective from March 22, 2020 through May 2, 2020, Nebraska Employment Security Law is revised as follows:

  • The Commissioner of Labor will treat workers in a unpaid status for any reason as a result of COVID-19 exposure or illness as being on a temporary layoff and attached to their employment.
  • The one (1) week waiting period before the start of unemployment benefits is waived for eligible employees;
  • The requirement that an employee who is out of work as a result of COVID-19 actively seek employment is waived;
  • Charges to employers for providing unemployment benefits, short term compensation benefits due to a reduction in work, or charges related to an employer’s failure to respond to requests for separation information within ten (10) days are waived if the the benefits or delayed response are a result of COVID-19 exposure or illness;

While the Executive Order has provided some assistance, there are other options available for employers who are looking for alternatives to temporary or permanent layoff of employees.  Examples of some alternatives include: 

  • Short-Term Compensation Program - this program is designed to help prevent layoffs by allowing employers to uniformly reduce affected employees’ hours by 10 to 60 percent, and still receive a prorated unemployment benefit.  During this time, the employer continues to provide heath and retirement benefits to the employees.  Koley Jessen can provide additional information and assist you in completing the application to the Nebraska Department of Labor if this is an alternative that interests you.
  • Supplemental Unemployment Benefit Payment Plan (SUB-Pay Plan) – is a unique type of severance plan designed to assist employees who have been involuntarily terminated due to a reduction in force, job elimination, reorganization or similar circumstance. SUB-Pay Plans enable employees to receive compensation in addition to their unemployment compensation, and enables employers to save payroll taxes because the plans are exempt from FICA taxes. Koley Jessen can assist you in drafting a SUB-Pay Plan for your organization.    

Koley Jessen continues to monitor the situation and stay current on the issues facing employers in light of the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak. If your organization has additional questions or concerns as the situation develops, please contact a member of the Koley Jessen Employment, Labor and Benefits Practice Group.

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