This series has recently addressed several business and financial implications from the ongoing coronavirus/COVID-19 pandemic. 1 Those pieces have been issued with an eye largely towards maintaining the stability of Florida’s business enterprises and employers. In this article resources which have become available to Florida’s workers, whether they are engaged in traditional W-2, independent contractor 1099, or self-employed ‘gig’ capacities, are addressed.
Unfortunately, a real-world result of the pandemic and the negative economic stresses it has created through the international, national, and Florida marketplaces – whether on Wall Street or Main Street – has been the unemployment (hopefully temporary) of large numbers or workers. A number of media outlets report approximately ten million new unemployment benefit applications have been submitted nationally (as of April 2nd). 2
While these furloughs and layoffs 3 are at best disconcerting and at worst devastating to Florida’s individuals and families – who still have to pay rent, mortgages, food, utilities, health insurance, and other recurring bills no matter the existence of COVID-19 – temporary relief has become available through federal and state-administered programs.
As has been the case for quite a while, Florida’s workers who have lost their jobs are eligible to apply for unemployment insurance benefits. The unemployment compensation programs have been enhanced due to the systemic employment dislocations caused by COVID-19. While a long, technical description of the benefits available (state and federal), qualifications, and application process is possible, the following succinct outline, which is derived from the April 2 online edition of the Miami Herald, is likely more helpful:
- Up to $275 per week, which is earnings dependent, is available for up to 12 weeks. The availability period can be extended, based upon increases in the state’s unemployment rate, to a maximum of 23 weeks.
- Specific federal benefits provide an additional $600 per week through July 1. This amount applies even if a worker earned less than that amount before their job ended.
- Independent contractors and self-employed workers are not, as a typical matter, eligible for state unemployment compensation benefits. Under the federal ‘Pandemic Unemployment Assistance’ program 4, however, those workers are eligible to receive $600 per week plus half the average Florida unemployment benefit.
- Applications for both Florida state andfederal benefits are made through the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity’s CONNECT Reemployment Assistance portal. DEO’s Help Desk telephone number is 1-800-204-2418. 5
To read the full Miami Herald Q&A-formatted article (by Graham Brink and Lawrence Mower). That article contains additional details about both the Florida and federal programs. 6
A critical point about applying for unemployment compensation benefits: While an unemployed person’s patience runs thin, the application portal is, as the DEO notes, “currently experiencing higher than average wait times when contacting the Reemployment Assistance Program”. 7 Accordingly, applicant patience is required.
More information to come as the situation unfolds over time. However, the ‘plan’ is to pivot this series away from government initiatives to ‘self-help’ measures businesses can implement.
For information about Bogin, Munns & Munns’ own response to Coronavirus readiness.
1 See https://www.boginmunns.com/life-in-times-of-coronavirus/, https://www.boginmunns.com/life-in-the-times-of-the-coronavirus-week-2/, https://www.boginmunns.com/the-coronavirus_pandemic-resources-for-floridas-businesses-families-and-individuals/, https://www.boginmunns.com/a-brief-note-for-floridas-individuals-families-and-businesses-about-extensions/.
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2 https://www.politico.com/news/2020/04/02/unemployment-claims-coronavirus-pandemic-161081. See also https://www.theguardian.com/business/2020/mar/26/us-unemployment-rate-coronavirus-business, https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/2020/04/09/66-million-americans-filed-unemployed-last-week-bringing-pandemic-total-over-17-million/. For comparison purposes (compared to the 2008 recession), see https://qz.com/1826170/us-unemployment-claims-coronavirus-vs-the-2008-recession/.
3 For an explanation of the distinction between layoffs and furloughs see https://www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/tools-and-samples/hr-qa/pages/furloughlayoffreductioninforce.aspx.
6 The Miami Herald article is not quoted in this piece because it is copyrighted.
– For more information, call Philip N. Kabler of the Gainesville, FL office of Bogin, Munns & Munns at 352.332.7688, where he practices in the areas of business, banking, real estate, and equine law. He has taught business and real estate law courses at the University of Florida Warrington College of Business Administration and Levin College of Law and is the President-Elect of the Eighth Judicial Circuit Bar Association.
NOTICE: The article above is not intended to serve as legal advice, and you should not rely on it as such. It is offered only as general information. You should consult with a duly licensed attorney regarding your Florida legal matter, as every situation is unique. Please know that merely reading this article, subscribing to this blog, or otherwise contacting Bogin, Munns & Munns does not establish an attorney-client relationship with our firm. Should you seek legal representation from Bogin, Munns & Munns, any such representation must first be agreed to by the firm and confirmed in a written agreement.