The COVID-19 pandemic has caused significant increases in unemployment claims, while at the same time requiring rapid changes in the way employees at the Illinois Department of Employment Security (“IDES”) perform their work. These factors, among others (such as legislative amendments), have caused employers throughout the State have a difficult time handling and responding to unemployment-related questions with any certainty.
Yesterday, IDES issued Guidance for Educational Institutions in response to recent changes in Illinois law. Specifically, Public Act 101-0633, which allows non-professional academic employees to use their academic wages to establish unemployment benefits during summer months – a time when such employees would not typically be working – and during vacation breaks and holidays this year. The expanded benefits were limited to unemployment weeks beginning on or after March 15, 2020 and before December 31, 2020.
Public Act 101-0633 provided that employers subject to the payment of contributions would not be chargeable for any benefit charges for benefits paid that are “directly or indirectly attributable to COVID-19.” It also provided that the State and any local government that is subject to making payments in lieu of contributions would be chargeable for 50% of the benefits paid. The understanding since that time has been that the 50% that was chargeable to such State and local government employers would be reimbursed using federal funds so that there would be no net cost to State and local government employers in the long run.
IDES confirmed this understanding in its Guidance for Educational Institutions and indicated that it would provide additional information in August “detailing how taxable employers will not be charged for the unemployment charges, and reimbursable employers will be not be charged 50% and the process for federal reimbursement of the remaining 50%.”
IDES also requested each educational institution in the State complete and submit an Academic Personnel Reporting form to assist IDES’s ability to process unemployment claims for professional academic personnel who have reasonable assurance to return to work next academic year. The form is available in the Guidance for Educational Institutions. Employers that complete the Academic Personnel Reporting Form should still monitor unemployment claims to ensure they are not mistakenly granted.
Please contact Whitt Law Senior Attorney Brittany Flaherty Theis (firstname.lastname@example.org) with questions regarding the IDES Guidance for Educational Institutions. The attorneys at Whitt Law have vast experiencing advising our clients on employment-related matters, including questions involving unemployment, retirement benefits, and ADA accommodations. Please contact one of our attorneys with questions regarding to the numerous implications of the COVID-19 pandemic on employment matters.
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