Coronavirus Updates

This page has been updated as of late Tuesday 11/24/2020.

Due to the novel coronavirus pandemic, the Chicago Laborers' District Council Office Building is currently closed. However, staff members are working remotely and available to serve our members and affiliates. Please, call the office at (630) 655-8289 for assistance or contact your Local Union.

Our number one priority during these unprecedented times is the safety and well-being of our members and their families. The Chicago Laborers’ District Council along with our affiliated Locals and organizations are working with our signatory contractors and public officials, as well as closely monitoring updates from Federal, State, and Local governments to determine the best course of action regarding the coronavirus pandemic. 

We will regularly post news and information here relevant to our members, affiliates, and signatory contractors in addition to FAQs.

Please be advised that all information posted, including the website links, guidelines, and regulations restated herein, is based on the most recent information available to the Laborers’ District Council.  This information may change or be modified at any time in this unprecedented and rapidly evolving situation.

Disclaimer

All content provided on this page is for informational purposes only. The Laborers’ District Council makes no representations as to the accuracy or completeness of any information on this page or found by following any link on this page. Any action you take upon the information on this website is strictly at your own risk, and the Laborers’ District Council will not be liable for any losses and damages in connection with the use of this web page.

City of Chicago and Municipal Employees should seek additional information from their Locals.
Laborers’ Local 1001
Laborers’ Local 1092

State of Illinois’ Coronavirus Response Website

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Coronavirus Frequently Asked Questions

COVID-19 Essential Workers and Construction Q&A
I got COVID-19 because I had to go to work during the Governor’s Stay-at-Home orders, do I qualify for workers’ compensation?
I'm a construction Laborer, what should I do if my job site has been shut down due to COVID-19?
What does the Stay at Home order mean for construction job sites?
How is COVID-19 affecting the construction industry generally and my job specifically?
What Steps Can I Take to Stay Safe at Home and at Work?
I'm an essential worker, where can I get child care for my children when I'm working?

Employee Rights Q&A
What are my rights as an employee during the pandemic? IL Dept of Labor FAQs
COVID-19 Family Medical Leave & Paid Sick Leave: Families First Coronavirus Response Act FAQs
Where can I file a complaint if my employer is not following CDC guidelines for COVID-19?

Health & Welfare Fund Q&A
Chicago Laborers' Pension & Welfare Funds/Westchester Questions & Answers
Fox Valley Health & Welfare and Pension Funds Questions & Answers

Training Center Q&A
Is the Training Center Holding Classes?

Unemployment Insurance Q&A updated 11/24/2020
What is the Unemployment Insurance Website?
Where can I get legal help filing for unemployment benefits?
How will my Unemployment Benefits be Affected by COVID-19?
Nobody is answering when I call in for my unemployment claim, what should I do?
Where do I file for unemployment benefits online?
What if I can't get a response when I try to file on the phone or online?
Eligibility for Regular Unemployment Insurance
Filing a Claim
Certifying a Claim & Receiving Benefits
Exhausting Benefits & Receiving an Extension
Filing an Additional Claim NEW!
Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (The $600 Increase in Benefits)
Pandemic Unemployment Assistance & Self Employed Workers
Employer Considerations

Lost Wages Assistance Information and FAQs
What Should I do if someone has filed a false claim in my name? NEW!

General Q&A
Where can I get a COVID-19 test?
When will the Stay at Home Order end?
What Steps Can I Take to Stay Safe at Home and at Work?
Should I wear a face mask in public?
How do I make a face mask?
What are the new symptoms of COVID-19 that CDC has documented?
What is the Restore Illinois Plan?
What's open and what am I allowed to do in my region?


Q. I got COVID-19 because I had to go to work during the Governor’s Stay-at-Home orders, do I qualify for workers’ compensation?
A.
COVID-19 first responders and front-line workers who contracted the disease on the job between March 9 and December 31, 2020, may now be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits thanks to a new law signed by Governor Pritzker. Only workers whose jobs require them to have contact with the public OR work in a location with more than 15 employees qualify. Eligible first responders and front-line workers include essential infrastructure workers such as construction, sewer, water, and waste management, etc.; individuals employed as police, fire personnel, emergency medical technicians, or paramedics; all individuals employed and considered as first responders; all workers for health care providers, including nursing homes and rehabilitation facilities and home care workers; corrections officers; and other individuals employed by essential businesses and operations as defined in Executive Order 2020-10 dated March 20, 2020.

Q: I’m a construction Laborer, what should I do if my job site has been shut down due to COVID-19?
A: If your job site has been shut down due to coronavirus, notify your Local union immediately.
You may be eligible for unemployment insurance. To file a claim go online at https://www2.illinois.gov/ides/individuals/UnemploymentInsurance/Pages/default.aspx. For questions about eligibility click here: https://www2.illinois.gov/ides/Pages/COVID-19-and-Unemployment-Benefits.aspx

Q: What does the Stay at Home Executive Order mean for construction job sites?
A:
This Executive Order does not apply to essential infrastructure and critical trades. It also includes a broad exemption for local union activities and the administration of health and welfare funds. Ongoing construction projects will remain ongoing. Supervisors should emphasize social distancing on all job sites. The goal of this order is NOT to cease ongoing construction projects. Tradespeople are considered essential service providers who must be on the job.

Q: How is COVID-19 affecting the construction industry generally, and my job specifically?
A: 
Currently many job sites are still operating.  In some localities, Governors, Mayors, and other leaders are restricting specific types of work to slow the spread of this virus.  However, broadly speaking, construction work has not been restricted within the Chicago District Council.  With that in mind, it is up to our signatory contractors to determine whether or not they continue operations at this time.

If your employer is asking you to continue to work, please make sure the employer is making every reasonable effort to maintain safe, clean, and healthy work sites.  If you believe this is not the case, please reach out to your Local union representative and express your concerns about industrial hygiene at your place of work.

It is impossible to accurately speculate on what will become of everyone’s job in the short or long term.  Much of what Laborers do is vital to maintaining the civil infrastructure that makes everyday life work.  At this time, there is no talk of work like that being shut down.  However, other construction work may be considered more “elective”, often this is private construction, including buildouts.  Work like this may be at risk of shutting down, either by your employer or by the government, for health and safety considerations.

Q: What steps can I take at home and at work to stay safe?
A:
The CDC guidelines on maintaining hygiene are to:

  1. Wear a mask or cloth face covering when you go out in public or go to work.
  2. Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Always wash your hands with soap and water if your hands are visibly dirty.
  3. Practice social distancing by limiting person-to-person contact within six feet, especially in large groups or in enclosed spaces. Avoid gatherings of 10 or more people.
  4. Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth.
  5. Thoroughly clean and disinfect objects and surfaces you regularly come into contact with.
  6. Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  7. If you feel sick, stay home from work to avoid spreading any illness further. If you must go out in public, do your best to avoid close contact with other people.
  8. If you believe you have contracted the coronavirus, you should contact your healthcare provider BEFORE attempting to go to a hospital.  Discuss symptoms and options with your primary care physician.

 At the job site:

  1. Wear a mask or cloth face covering.
  2. Avoid gathering with large groups of 10 or more people. 
  3. Make sure your employer makes hand sanitizer or hand washing facilities available to all people working on site. 
  4. Hygiene related to the bathroom or portable toilets is also critically important.
  5. Do not share other workers’ phones, PPE, or other work tools and equipment.
  6. Report symptoms of COVID-19 immediately. If you are sick, stay home. If you feel sick and are at work, tell your supervisor.
  7. Cooperate with response measures instituted by your employer and those recommended by health officials at the federal, state, and local levels.

Q: I'm an essential worker, where can I get child care for my children when I'm working?
A: Effective April 1st, all essential workers in health care, human services, essential government services & essential infrastructure now qualify for Illinois' Child Care Assistance Program, meaning the state will cover most, if not all, of the cost of care. That includes everyone from nurses and doctors to support staff in hospitals to grocery store clerks, food producers, and construction workers. Full details & applications are available now on the Illinois Department of Human Services website.

A dedicated helpline has been created so Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies (CCR&Rs) can help connect essential workers to emergency child care. Call toll-free (888) 228-1146. You can also search for providers in your area by clicking here.

For residents in Cook County: Text: 312-736-7390 Monday through Friday between 8:30 AM-5:00 PM. Priority will be given to first responders, health care workers, and essential workers to help them find and pay for child care.

Q: Where can I file a complaint if my employer is not following CDC guidelines for COVID-19?
A:
If you believe an employer of essential employees is NOT following CDC Guidelines you may report them. Complaints against public sector employers should be filed with Illinois OSHA here: https://www2.illinois.gov/idol/Laws-Rules/safety/Pages/Hazards.aspx Complaints against private sector employers should be filed with Federal OSHA here: https://www.osha.gov/pls/osha7/eComplaintForm.html

Both public and private sector employees may also make complaints directly to the Attorney General’s office at 1-844-740-5076.

Chicago Laborers' Pension & Welfare Funds/Westchester

Q: What does the Stay At Home Order mean for the Westchester Benefit Fund Office?
A:
The Fund Office is an Essential Business under Governor Pritzker’s Stay At Home Order and is continuing to operate. Due to the risk of infection from the coronavirus, most of the Fund Office staff will be working remotely to continue to provide services to you and your family.  Visitor access to the Fund Office will be limited until the outbreak subsides.

This is for the health and safety of you, the Fund Office Staff, and your families.  Please call the office (708) 562 - 0200 for assistance and they will try to answer your questions over the telephone.

If you have documents to drop off at the Fund Office, you may use the mailbox to the right side of the entry door. .The mailbox will be checked periodically during the day and your documents will be processed as soon as possible.  Please make sure the documents include your name, ID number, which can be found on your BlueCross BlueShield ID card, and a phone number where you can be reached if there are questions concerning the documents.

If you need to apply for your pension, please call (708) 562-0200 Ext. 530 or email pension@chilpwf.com to let the Fund Office know that you intend to retire.  An application package will be sent to you and representatives will be available by telephone to help you complete the application forms.

Q: Will the Health & Welfare Fund Cover COVID-19 Testing (Westchester)?
A: Testing for COVID-19:
Effective March 18, 2020, the Westchester Active and Retiree Plans were amended to provide coverage for diagnostic tests to detect COVID-19 that are approved or authorized by the FDA, including the administration of such tests.  The Plans will also provide coverage for services furnished during provider office visits (whether in person or via telehealth), urgent care visits, and emergency room visits that result in an order for, or the administration of, the test described above, but only to the extent such items or services relate to the furnishing or administration of the test or the evaluation of whether the person needs the test.  These tests and services related to the tests will be covered without any cost-sharing (meaning they are not subject to a deductible, copayment or co-insurance), regardless of whether they are provided by an in-network or out-of-network provider.

Q: Will Treatment for COVID-19 be covered (Westchester)?
A: The Westchester Fund will cover medically necessary treatment (physician, hospital, emergency room), supplies, and prescription medications as with any other sickness, subject to Plan rules.

Q: Will Telehealth Visits be covered (Westchester)?
A: 
Effective immediately, Telehealth visits with a healthcare provider will be covered the same as physician office visits, subject to Plan rules.

Q: Will Vaccinations for COVID-19 be covered (Westchester)?
A: There is currently no vaccination for COVID-19, but if and when a vaccination becomes available, it will be covered under the medical plan at 100%.

Fox Valley Health and Welfare and Pension Funds

Q: What does the Stay At Home Order mean for Fox Valley Benefit Fund Office?
A:
Due to the recent order by Governor J.B. Pritzker, and to limit the risk of infection to our staff, our participants, and their families, the Fund Office will remain closed to in-person services until April 7, 2020, or the duration of the Governor’s shelter-in-place order.  We remain committed to assisting you and do not anticipate any disruption in the services we provide at this time.  The office is staffed and we are able to assist you by telephone at (847) 742-0900.  Documents may be dropped off at the Fund Office in the vestibule.  We appreciate your understanding. 

Q:  How are my benefits affected by COVD-19 (Fox Valley)?
A: On March 18, 2020, the President signed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act into law designed to help Americans affected by the coronavirus outbreak.  The Act requires health plans to cover certain services in regard to the coronavirus (COVID-19).  The following benefit coverage changes are effective immediately:

Q: Will Testing for COVID-19 be covered (Fox Valley)?
A: FDA approved COVID-19 diagnostic testing products, including items and services associated with a provider visit (office, urgent care, and emergency room) that relates to the evaluation, are covered at 100% without deductible, coinsurance, or copays to participants and dependents.

Q: Is prior authorization required (Fox Valley)?
A:
There is no prior authorization required.

Q: Will Telehealth Visits be covered (Fox Valley)?
A: Telehealth services related to the screening for COVID-19 are a covered benefit when offered by providers.

Q: Will my treatment for COVID-19 be covered (Fox Valley)?
A:
After diagnosis, follow-up care is covered under the normal plan benefit level.

Q: What about my prescriptions (Fox Valley)?
A: 
CVS will approve one-time emergency refills of a 30-day supply of medication during this event.  Also, CVS Pharmacy will waive charges for home delivery of prescription medication in an effort to encourage individuals at higher risk for COVID-19 complications to stay home as much as possible.  Certain restrictions apply.  Visit www.info.caremark.com/covid-19 for additional detail

Q: Where can I get support in coping (Fox Valley)?
A:
Please be reminded that Employee Resource Systems, Inc. is available to support you as you cope with these uncertain times.  They are available 24/7/365 at (800) 292-2780 or www.ers-eap.com.

Q: Is the Training Center Holding Classes?
A:
The Training Fund is very happy to announce we will be opening our doors to provide Flagger Training at our Chicago Facility. The training fund will be taking calls beginning June 1 for reserved seating and classes will begin as soon as these seats are assigned. All CDC, OSHA, and Training Fund regulations regarding disinfecting and social distancing will be followed. No one will be allowed to enter the building without a face mask. No more than eight members will be allowed in a classroom, all practicing social distancing. There will not be any access to the building other than the assigned classroom through a designated ingress and egress point. We are only providing training at our facility due to our concerns about the health and safety of our employees. If you have any questions, do not hesitate to contact the Training Fund at 630.653.0006.

Unemployment Insurance

Please, visit the Illinois Department of Employment Security’s FAQs page for more information.

Q: Where can I get legal help filing for unemployment benefits?
A: Dues-paying members of our affiliated Locals are automatically members of the Midwest Coalition of Labor and have access to legal services provided by Union Legal Services, LLC.  Union Legal Services will help you with the process of applying for unemployment benefits. For members who don't have access to a computer or need additional assistance, Legal Services will fill out the forms and file for you.

They are doing this FREE of charge. Members can call (877) 694-2663 anytime. If all representatives are busy, you can leave a message and it will be returned in the order it was received.

To learn more about your other Midwest Coalition of Labor benefits follow the link. https://coalitionoflabor.org/

Q: What is the Illinois Unemployment Insurance website?
A: Illinois Department of Employment Security website click here

Q: How will my Unemployment Benefits be Affected by COVID-19?
A:
Unemployment benefits may be available to some individuals whose unemployment is attributable to COVID-19. IDES recently adopted emergency rules to try to make the unemployment insurance system as responsive to the current situation as possible.

Q: Nobody is answering when I call in for my unemployment claim, what should I do?
A:
The Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES) is overwhelmed by the extremely high volume of phone calls. Filing from a smartphone is not possible, so file from a computer if possible.  The online filing allows IDES to process your claims faster. To file your claims online click here.

Q: Where do I file for unemployment benefits online?
A: To file your claims online click here. Filing from a smartphone is not possible, so file from a computer if possible. 

Q: What if I can't get a response when I try to file on the phone or online?
A: IDES is projecting more claims being filed in April 2020 than were filed in the entire 2019 calendar year.  IDES has made technical updates to help the online application system run more smoothly.  However, if an applicant is having trouble filing online, or cannot get through to the call center, and there is a delay in processing his or her unemployment claim, IDES will backdate the claim to the date of actual unemployment so the applicant will not be shorted any benefits.

Eligibility for Regular Unemployment Insurance

Q. What if I'm laid off because the place where I work is temporarily closed because of the COVID-19 virus?
A. An individual temporarily laid off in this situation could qualify for benefits if he or she was able and available for and actively seeking work. Under emergency rules, IDES recently adopted, the individual would not have to register with the employment service. He or she would be actively seeking work as long as the individual was prepared to return to his or her job as soon as the employer reopened.

Q. What if I quit my job because I am generally concerned over the COVID-19 virus?
A. An individual who leaves work voluntarily without a good reason attributable to the employer is generally disqualified from receiving UI. The eligibility of an individual in this situation will depend on whether the facts of his or her case demonstrate the individual had a good reason for quitting and that the reason was attributable to the employer. An individual generally has a duty to make a reasonable effort to work with his or her employer to resolve whatever issues have caused the individual to consider quitting.

Q. What if I’m confined to my home Because I must care for my child or because I have been diagnosed with the COVID-19 virus?
A. An individual in any of those situations would be unemployed through no fault of his or her own. However, to qualify for UI, he or she would still need to meet all other eligibility requirements, including the requirements that the individual is able and available for work, registered with the state employment service and actively seeking work from the confines of his or her home. The individual would be considered able and available for work if there was some work that he or she could perform from home (e.g., transcribing, data entry, virtual assistant services) and there is a labor market for that work.

Q. What if I leave work because my child’s school has temporarily closed, and I feel I have to stay home with the child?
A. Ordinarily, an individual who left work to address childcare needs would be considered to have left work voluntarily and would generally be disqualified from receiving UI, unless the reason for leaving was attributable to the employer. However, the fact that all schools statewide have temporarily closed in response to the COVID-19 virus presents a unique situation in which it is unlikely a parent whose child cannot stay home alone has a ready alternative to staying home with the child himself/herself. Under the current circumstances, someone who left work to care for the child could be considered as unemployed through no fault of his her own; in that case, to qualify for UI, the individual would still need to meet all other eligibility requirements, including the requirements that the individual is able and available for work, registered with the state employment service and actively seeking work from the confines of his or her home. The individual would be considered able and available for work if there was some work that he or she could perform from home (e.g., transcribing, data entry, virtual assistant services) and there is a labor market for that work.

Q. What if I have reduced wages (part-time work)? Can I work and receive benefits?
A. Yes, if your earnings are less than your weekly benefit amount (WBA), you may be eligible for all or partial benefits.

In general, when a claimant files a claim for unemployment benefits, a weekly benefit amount (WBA) for that individual is determined using the amount of wages in the claimant’s work history. High earners will generally max out at $484 per week for their WBA. If for a given week due to a cut in hours, an employee does not earn more than his or her WBA, then that claimant could be eligible for benefits, but their weekly benefit would be reduced by a formula in the Unemployment Insurance Act. If the claimant receives no wages for a given week, they may be entitled to their WBA without reduction. If a claimant receives more than his or her WBA for a given week, they are not considered to be unemployed and are not eligible for benefits. A claimant must meet all other requirements, including certifying that he or she is able and available for work, among others, to receive benefits

Q. Am I eligible for unemployment if I am currently receiving income using my vacation days, sick days, or receiving FMLA payments?
A. Money received from your employer for using your vacation and sick days, as well as FMLA payments, are considered wages and will be taken into account to determine if you are eligible for benefits and, if so, the amount of the benefits.

Q. What determines if I'm able to work, available for work, and actively seeking work?
A. An individual is considered able to work if he or she is mentally and physically capable of performing a job for which a labor market exists. To be considered available for work, an individual cannot impose conditions on the acceptance of work if those conditions essentially leave him or her with no reasonable prospect of work. An individual is actively seeking work if he or she is making an effort that is reasonably calculated to return the individual to work. An individual cannot refuse a suitable job offer or they could lose eligibility for benefits.

Q. How do I look for work?
A. One way to look for work is IDES’s Illinois Job Link (IJL) website, which is an employment service tool used to enhance an individual’s ability to obtain employment.

Q. Am I required to use Illinois Job Link?
A. Normally, an individual is required to register with Illinois Job Link to be eligible for unemployment benefits, but there are exceptions to this requirement, including where local labor market conditions indicate employment service registration would not increase the likelihood of returning to work. This exception applies to workers temporarily laid off due to the COVID-19 outbreak. The registration requirement is waived with respect to them.

Q. I am receiving wages from an employer, and I also have a side business where I am an independent contractor. I lost all of my independent contractor work, but I am still receiving some wages from my employer. Am I eligible for benefits?
A. For regular unemployment purposes, payment for services performed by an individual in self-employment is not considered wages under the Unemployment Act. This means such payment: (1) is not reported on the certification form; (2) is not considered in determining if there have been enough wages earned during the base period to be eligible for unemployment; and (3) does not reduce an individual’s weekly benefit amount. If there are enough wages in the base period other than payment for services performed in self-employment, a claimant could be eligible for regular unemployment.

Q. I am an undocumented individual. My employer had been paying me in cash but closed the business as a result of COVID-I9. Am I eligible for any unemployment benefits?
A. In general, individuals who are not lawfully permitted to work in the United States are not able and available to work, and therefore, they are not eligible for regular State unemployment benefits or benefits under the federal stimulus legislation.

Q. I have a green card and was recently laid-off due to COVID-19. Am I eligible?
A. Individuals with green cards issued by the federal government are generally able and available to work, and they could be eligible for unemployment benefits.

Filing a Claim

Q. How can I file a claim?

A. While claims can be filed over the telephone, we ask that you file online due to the high volume of calls IDES is currently receiving. Please go to the IDES website, click on “Individuals” at the top left of the screen, click on “Unemployment Insurance,” scroll down to “File For Unemployment Insurance,” and follow the prompts.

Q. When can I file a claim?
Online filing (any time of day, except 8pm to 10pm for processing):
    • Those with last names beginning with letters A-M: Sundays, Tuesdays, or Thursdays.
    • Those with last names beginning with letters N-Z: Mondays, Wednesdays, or Fridays.
    • Saturdays are available for anyone to accommodate those people who could not file during their allotted window.
Call Center Filing Schedule:
    • Last names beginning with letters A-M: Tuesdays and Thursdays between 7:30 am – 6 pm.
    • Last names beginning with letters N-Z are asked to call on Mondays and Wednesdays between 7:30 am – 6 pm.
    • Fridays (7:30 am – 6 pm) are available for anyone to accommodate those people who could not file during their allotted window.

Q. Are local and regional IDES offices open?
A. All local and regional IDES offices are closed to the public until such time as the Governor lifts the stay at home directive. However, each IDES office is staffed with essential personnel competent and trained to handle day-to-day operations and conduct adjudication interviews by phone. In addition, the IDES Claims Service Center is fully staffed and has extended operating hours. The telephone number is 800-244-5631.

Q. Will my benefits be affected if I cannot file immediately?
A. No. The day or time a claim is filed will not impact whether you receive benefits or your benefit amount. If you were unable to file your claim because of capacity or system limitations, you will have an opportunity to discuss backdating your claim with a representative by calling 800-244-5631.

Q. What information do I need to file my claim?
A. It is important to have the following information before you begin the filing process. The application will time out after an hour of nonuse:

  • Your Social Security number
  • Your Driver’s License or State ID
  • Your employment history from the past 18 months, including the name of employers, start date, last day of work, and number of days worked
  • If you are claiming a dependent child or a dependent spouse, you will need to provide your dependent’s name, social security number and date of birth

Q. What happens after I file my claim?
A. After your claim is filed, IDES will send you a UI Finding notice, which will let you know if you are eligible for benefits. The UI Finding will include information such as:

  • Your Weekly Benefit Amount (WBA), which is the amount you are eligible to receive each week
  • Your Dependent Allowance, if applicable
  • Your first certification date
  • Other information pertinent to your claim, including your Maximum Benefit Allowance, the total amount you are eligible to receive during your benefit year (26 times your WBA)


Certifying a Claim & Receiving Benefits

Q. What is the difference between filing a claim and certifying?
A. Filing a claim is the application process you undertake to determine whether you qualify for unemployment benefits. Certifying is a process that first occurs two weeks after you have filed your claim. Every two weeks you need to certify that you are able and available to work, are actively seeking work, and report any income you received.

Q. How do I certify?
A. Certification involves answering a list of questions that are asked to determine if you are eligible to receive unemployment benefits for the weeks in question. You will be assigned a certification day; either Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday and will be asked questions pertaining to the two weeks immediately preceding.

Example: If your call date is Monday, 04/06/2020, you will be asked questions pertaining to the week of 03/22/2020 through 04/04/2020.

If you miss your regular certification day, you can certify on Thursday or Friday of that week. You may also certify on your regular day in the following week (or Thursday or Friday of the following week). Instructions on the certification process are located on our website.

Q. When will I start receiving my benefits?
A. Once you have certified, it will be determined if you are eligible to receive benefits based on the answers you provided. If you are eligible to receive benefits, generally you will receive a payment within 2 to 3 business days. Payments will be sent to your debit card; or if you set up a direct deposit, payments will be deposited into your bank account.

Q. Will I receive an additional benefit if I have children or a spouse who does not work?
A. You may receive a Dependent Allowance in addition to your weekly benefit amount if you have either (1) a dependent child under the age of eighteen (18) or (2) a non-working spouse. You can claim one or the other. You cannot claim both your spouse and your child as a dependent. More than one child will not increase your benefits. You cannot claim your spouse if your spouse is also receiving unemployment benefits. The minimum allowance for a dependent spouse is $15; the maximum allowance is $93. The minimum allowance for a dependent child is $26; the maximum allowance is $185.

Q. Are my benefits taxable?
A. Unemployment insurance benefits are subject to State and Federal income taxes. You can elect to have deductions taken out at the time you file your claim or after. Deductions are 10% federal income taxes and 4.95% state income taxes. You cannot elect deductions on a payment you have already been paid.

Q. If I am receiving Workers’ Compensation payments, will this affect my unemployment benefits?
A. Yes. 100% of your workers’ compensation will be deducted from your weekly benefit amount. An individual that is unable to work at all due to a temporary disability is completely ineligible for unemployment.

Q. I receive a pension. Will this affect my unemployment benefits?
A. If the pension was paid by an employer in your base period or if the employer is the chargeable employer on your claim, those pension payments are considered disqualifying income and 50% of the amount you receive may be deducted from your weekly benefit amount (WBA) if you paid into the pension, or 100% will be deducted if your employer paid the full amount. If you received a lump sum amount and did not have the option to receive monthly payments, a deduction will be made only for the week in which you received the payment. If it has been more than 18 months since you worked for the employer, the pension you are paid is not disqualifying income and will not be deducted from your benefits.

Q. I received a debit card in the mail but it did not have any funds on it. Why not?
A. The debit card is mailed soon after the claim is filed and processed. The funds are placed on the debit card two days after the claimant certifies which is generally two weeks after the claim is filed.


Exhausting Benefits & Receiving an Extension

Q. I have exhausted my rights to UI. Will additional benefits be available because of the COVID-19 situation?
A. Yes. Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) is a temporary program that provides up to 13 weeks of benefits to individuals who have exhausted all rights to regular compensation with respect to a benefit year that ended on or after July 1, 2019. However, the first possible week for which PEUC may be paid is the week beginning March 29, 2020. The last week that PEUC may be paid is the week ending December 26, 2020. If an individual has exhausted benefits and is no longer certifying, IDES will determine eligibility, notify the claimant, and automatically enroll the claimant in PEUC.

Q. What if I exhausted my state benefits before the Governor’s Executive Order declaring a disaster? Am I eligible for an additional 13 weeks of benefits now?
A. Yes, IDES is in the process of determining eligibility and we will notify you when an extension has been applied to your exhausted claim.


Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (The $600 Increase in Benefits)

Q. Who is eligible for the additional $600?
A. Anyone who receives at least $1 of state or federal unemployment benefits for a week, during the period from March 29, 2020, through July 25, 2020.

Q. Are self-employed individuals receiving assistance under the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program eligible for the additional $600?
A. Yes, for the duration of the FPUC program.

Q. Once my application is processed and I begin receiving my unemployment benefits, will I also receive the additional $600 at the same time?
A. Yes, for the duration of the FPUC program. Under federal law, anyone eligible for at least a $1 in benefits for a week will be eligible for the $600 extra. The first week for which FPUC may be paid is the week beginning March 29, 2020; and the last week that FPUC may be paid is the week ending July 25, 2020.

Q. I am still working with reduced hours. If I earn more than my Weekly Benefit Amount, will I still receive the additional $600?
A. No, if an individual earns more than his/her WBA in a week, then that individual will not be eligible to receive benefits for that week. If the individual is not eligible for any amount of benefits for that week, the individual will also not receive the $600 for that week.


Pandemic Unemployment Assistance & Self Employed Workers

Q. I am self-employed. Do I qualify under the new federal unemployment program?
A. Under regular unemployment rules, the incomes of self-employed workers, freelancers, and independent contractors are not subject to unemployment taxes and so typically these individuals are not eligible for unemployment benefits. Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) was created to help people who lose this type of work as a direct result of the current public health emergency. A precondition for approval is that someone is not eligible for other unemployment programs. Applying for and being denied benefits under the regular UI program can help establish eligibility under the new temporary program.

Q. I receive a 1099 for the job(s) I do as an independent contractor. Am I eligible for PUA?
A. You may be eligible for regular unemployment, as “1099 employee” is not synonymous with “independent contractor” as defined by the Unemployment Insurance Act.

In Illinois, every individual who is unemployed or underemployed should file a claim for unemployment benefits, even if they have been told they're not covered by the state’s regular unemployment insurance program - because they’re an independent contractor, part of the “gig economy,” or for some other reason, for two reasons.

First, it’s possible that whoever told them they were not covered was wrong. Even if an individual’s employer does not consider the worker to be covered and doesn’t pay unemployment taxes on the individual’s wages, the individual can qualify for benefits if IDES determines he or she is covered under state law. An employer’s failure to contribute to the unemployment system will not impact a claimant’s eligibility for benefits.

Second, the PUA program has been established for individuals who are unemployed for reasons attributable to COVID-19 and not covered by the state’s regular unemployment insurance program. To establish eligibility under the new program, the claimant will have to demonstrate he/she is not eligible under the regular program. Applying for and being denied benefits under the regular program can help establish eligibility under the new temporary program.

Q. When will applications for the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) from the CARES Act be open?
A. If someone is unemployed or underemployed, they should file for unemployment immediately. Upon receipt of the application, IDES will handle the claim so that the individual receives benefits from the proper program. IDES expects to be able to begin paying PUA benefits by the week of May 11th.

Q. What does “Reasons attributable to COVID-19” mean?
A. PUA provides up to 39 weeks of benefits to qualifying individuals who are otherwise able to work and available for work, except that they are unemployed, partially unemployed, or unable or unavailable to work due to one of the COVID-19 related reasons listed below:

  • The individual has been diagnosed with COVID-19 or is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and is seeking a medical diagnosis.
  • A member of the individual’s household has been diagnosed with COVID-19.
  • The individual is providing care for a family member or a member of the individual’s household who has been diagnosed with COVID-19.
  • A child or other person in the household for which the individual has primary caregiving responsibility is unable to attend a school or another facility that is closed as a direct result of the COVID-19 public health emergency and such school or facility care is required for the individual to work;
  • The individual is unable to reach the place of employment because of a quarantine imposed as a direct result of the COVID-19 public health emergency.
  • The individual is unable to reach the place of employment because the individual has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine due to concerns related to COVID-19.
  • The individual was scheduled to commence employment and does not have a job or is unable to reach the job as a direct result of the COVID-19 public health emergency.
  • The individual has become the breadwinner or major support for a household because the head of the household has died as a direct result of COVID-19.
  • The individual must quit his or her job as a direct result of COVID-19; or
  • The individual’s place of employment is closed as a direct result of the COVID-19 public health emergency.

Q. How long will Pandemic Unemployment Assistance last? Will my PUA claim be backdated?
A. PUA payments are available for claimants who were unemployed due to COVID-19 related reasons beginning the week of February 2, 2020. PUA payments end on December 26, 2020. IDES will backdate claims to the first week of unemployment due to COVID-19 related reasons.

Q. As a sole proprietor or independent contractor, what documentation must I provide if I am eligible to receive benefits?
A. You will need to provide your 2019 federal income tax return or, if you do not have a return, you need other documentation to show your earnings in 2019.

Q. I did not file a tax return in 2019. Will I be eligible for benefits?
A. Yes, though independent contractors, sole proprietors, and others who do not have wages reported for them by an employer will have to provide other documentation of the amount of income they received in 2019.

Q. I was fired from my job for misconduct and was denied regular State unemployment benefits. Do I qualify for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance?
A. No. You are not unemployed due to COVID-19.

Q. I am an independent contractor, but I am only partially unemployed (i.e., my revenue has taken a significant loss, but I am not completely out of work). Can I receive unemployment benefits?
A. This depends on the amount of income from self-employment you earned in the past and currently. Under the federal stimulus legislation, a weekly benefit amount will be determined based on the amount of your past income. If your current weekly income does not exceed your maximum weekly benefit amount for any given week, you may be eligible for benefits. If your income exceeds the maximum weekly benefit amount, then you would not be eligible for benefits during any such week.

Employer Considerations

Q. If an employee receives unemployment benefits as a result of COVID-19, is the employer liable for the cost of benefits?
A. The programs under the federal stimulus legislation are funded by the federal government and not Illinois. For regular unemployment compensation, employers generally contribute to the cost of benefits for their former employees. The contribution rate of an experience-rated employer is based, in part, on the amount of unemployment benefits paid to the employer’s former employees, so this rate may rise when an employer furloughs or lays off employees due to COVID-19. If legislation is passed making claims related to COVID-19 non-chargeable to the employer, then employers furloughing or laying off workers due solely to COVID-19 would not be charged for the benefit costs, and the charges would be “pooled” between all employers. This would likely result in increased unemployment tax rates in future years for all employers because the entire pool of employers would need to be tasked with replenishing the benefit trust fund.

Q. Are there resources for my business potentially closing or laying off employees?
A. Rapid Response Services are available to employers who are planning or have gone through a permanent closure or mass layoff at a plant, facility, or enterprise, or a natural or other disaster, that results in mass job dislocation. The State Dislocated Worker Unit coordinates with employers to provide on-site information to workers and employers about employment and retraining services designed to help participants retain employment when feasible, or obtain re-employment as soon as possible. For more information, visit Rapid Response Services for Businesses or contact your local Illinois workNet Center.

Q. If I want to protest a claim, how long do I have?
A. You have 10 calendar days to protest in a timely manner. Protests must be postmarked or faxed by the due date indicated on the Notice of Claim. If you receive a notice after the due date, please indicate that on your response, return your response as soon as possible, and keep the envelope.

Q. Are employers going to be given extra time for filing the monthly payroll or quarterly wage reports?
A. At this time, the law has not been changed to give employers extra time for filing monthly or quarterly wage reports. However, employers are reminded that they can file a written request with the Director prior to the wage report filing due date to ask for an extension to file the wage report. The maximum extension for filing a monthly wage report is 15 days. The maximum extension for filing a quarterly wage report is 30 days. In order to make the request for an extension, the employer must state a reason for the request. Employers are encouraged to file their requests for extension via the MyTax website.

Q. I run a not-for-profit entity and have less than 4 employees. Can I retroactively elect to be liable under the UI Act so my employees can receive unemployment benefits?
A. No, but if the employees become unemployed because of COVID-19 issues, they could be eligible for benefits under the federal stimulus legislation.

Q. Can the employer require staff to utilize leave in lieu of paying them their salary? How does this affect unemployment eligibility?
A. An employer’s decision to require employees to utilize available paid leave or the equivalent should be based on the internal business policies of the employer and any applicable collective bargaining agreements. Whether the payment is disqualifying for unemployment purposes depends on the type of payment, when it was paid, and when IDES is notified of the payment. To notify us of potentially disqualifying issues, please sign up for SIDES at My Tax Illinois

Q. I was forced to furlough some workers, but now they refuse to come back to work. What should I do?
A. Ultimately, this is a business decision by the employer, but if an employer makes an offer to re-hire an employee, the employee refuses, and the employee remains on unemployment insurance, the employer should file a notice with IDES.

Please, visit the Illinois Department of Employment Security’s FAQs page for more information.

Q. What should I do if someone has filed a false claim in my name?
A. If someone has filed a fraudulent unemployment claim in your name: treat it as identity theft and do the following:

1. File a report at their local police department;
2. File an online complaint with the Illinois Department of Employment Security: https://www2.illinois.gov/.../UI_Fraud_by_Individuals.aspx
3. File an online complaint with the Illinois Attorney General’s Office: https://illinoisattorneygeneral.gov/about/email_ag.jsp
4. File an online complaint with the Federal Trade Commission: https://www.ftc.gov/.../con.../submit-consumer-complaint-ftc
5. Sign-up with a credit monitoring service such as Identity-IQ or Life-Lock to monitor their credit reports/scores.
If you have additional questions, you may contact the Midwest Coalition of Labor Legal Services at 877-694-2663.


Q: When will the Stay at Home Order end?
A:
The Stay at Home Executive Order expired on 5/29/2020.

Q: Should I wear a face mask in public?
A:
Yes. Beginning on May 1, individuals are required to wear a face-covering or a mask when in a public place where they can’t maintain a six-foot social distance. Face-coverings are required in public indoor spaces, such as stores. This new requirement applies to all individuals over the age of two who are able to medically tolerate a face-covering or a mask.

Essential businesses and manufacturers are required to provide face-coverings to all employees who are not able to maintain six-feet of social distancing, as well as follow new requirements that maximize social distancing and prioritize the well-being of employees and customers. This includes occupancy limits for essential businesses and precautions such as staggering shifts and operating only essential lines for manufacturers.

Q: How do I make a face mask?
A: Cloth face coverings can be fashioned from household items or made at home from common materials at low cost. How to Make a Face Mask Video Here

Q: What are the newly documented symptoms of COVID-19 according to the CDC?
A: Previously reported symptoms included cough and shortness of breath or difficulty breathing; the CDC has now added fever, chills, repeated shaking with chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat, new loss of taste or smell. This is not an all-inclusive list. Please, read more on the CDC website.

Q. What's open and what am I allowed to do?
A. Chicago guidelines
B. Statewide guidelines

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