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How do I apply for unemployment in Alabama?

Covid-19 epidemic making world economy in serious crisis.

Unemployment is surging in Alabama as businesses across the country have been forced close because of restrictions put in place to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Just last week, more than 9,000 people applied for unemployment compensation in the state, according to the Alabama Department of Labor.

Workers who lose their jobs because of COVID-19 can file for unemployment compensation in Alabama after the U.S. Department of Labor modified existing unemployment compensation rules to allow workers to file a claim.

To be eligible, you must meet one of the following requirements:

  • Those who are quarantined by a medical professional or a government agency,
  • Those who are laid off or sent home without pay for an extended period by their employer due to COVID-19 concerns,
  • Those who are diagnosed with COVID-19,
  • Or, those who are caring for an immediate family member who is diagnosed with COVID-19.

Verification of illness or quarantine may be required, and certain criteria and exceptions may apply. The department says this is subject to change.

The typical waiting week will also be waived, and claimants will also not have to search for other work provided they take reasonable steps to preserve their ability to come back to that job when the quarantine is lifted or the illness subsides.

Workers can file for benefits online at www.labor.alabama.gov or by calling 1-866-234-5382. Online filing is encouraged.

The requirement that a laid-off worker be “able and available” to work while receiving unemployment compensation benefits has been modified for claimants who are affected by COVID-19 in any of the situations listed above.

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People who are being paid to work from home, or those receiving paid sick or vacation leave are NOT eligible for unemployment compensation benefits, regardless if they experience any or all of the situations listed above.

ADOL is encouraging all employers who can file on their employees’ behalf to do so. All charges will be waived against those employers who file partial unemployment compensation claims on behalf of their employees. These charges will be waived until further notice. This waiver means that employers’ experience ratings will not be affected by COVID-19 related claims.

The FAQ below, provided by the Department of Labor, may answer some of your questions about filing for unemployment compensation.


Will workers qualify for unemployment benefits if COVID-19 causes an employer to shut down operations?

Alabama unemployment benefits are available to individuals who are unemployed through no fault of their own. If an employer must shut down operations and no work is available, individuals may be eligible for unemployment benefits.

If an employer lays off employees due to the loss of production caused by COVID-19, will the employees be eligible for unemployment insurance benefits?

Alabama unemployment benefits are available to any individual who is unemployed through no fault of their own. If an employer must lay off employees due to the loss of production caused by the coronavirus, individuals may be eligible for unemployment benefits.

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If an asymptomatic employee imposes a self-quarantine because of COVID-19, will they be eligible for unemployment benefits?

In most cases, no. Unemployment benefits are available to individuals who are totally or partially unemployed due to no fault of their own. In this example, the individual—not the employer—is choosing not to work and, therefore, would be ineligible. However, the facts of each circumstance are important. If the employer allowed this individual to telework, they would not qualify for benefits because they would not be unemployed. If the employer required the individual to stay home but did not offer telework, the individual might be eligible for benefits if they met the monetary and weekly eligibility criteria.

If an employee is in mandatory quarantine because of suspicion of having COVID-19, will they be eligible for unemployment benefits?

Yes, they will be eligible. Certain criteria and exceptions may apply, and are subject to change.

If an employee is ill because of COVID-19 and unable to work, will they be eligible for unemployment benefits?

Yes, they will be eligible. Certain criteria and exceptions may apply, and are subject to change.

If an employee is working reduced hours due to COVID-19 related issues, will they be eligible for unemployment benefits?

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In some instances, yes. Please file a claim to determine eligibility.

If an employee cannot work because they are caring for an immediate family member who is diagnosed with COVID-19, will they be eligible for unemployment benefits?

Yes, they will be eligible. Certain criteria and exceptions may apply, and are subject to change.

Is COVID-19 considered a disaster, and can an employee receive Disaster Unemployment Assistance?

The president of the United States has declared COVID-19 a national disaster, but at this time there has been no Disaster Unemployment Assistance declaration.

What types of proof may be required to substantiate a COVID-19 claim?

Proof of a medical diagnosis from a health care professional for the claimant and/or the immediate family member, and/or confirmation of quarantine by the employer or applicable government entity.

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How long can an employee receive benefits?

Generally, up to three weeks, subject to verification.

Can self-employed workers or workers who are employed by churches receive benefits?

No. In order to receive benefits, unemployment insurance taxes must be paid by the employer.


FOR EMPLOYERS

If an employee receives unemployment benefits as a result of a coronavirus-related business shutdown, will the employer’s unemployment taxes increase?

Employer charges will be waived to weeks claimed due to COVID-19 related issues until further notice. Employers are urged to file partial claims on their employees’ behalf, and/or to waive their right to respond to any Request for Separation information.

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If an employee receives unemployment benefits as a result of a coronavirus-related business shutdown, can the benefits be charged to the mutual account?

At this time, no further guidance has been issued. Until such a time, normal procedures will be followed.

What is a partial claim?

A partial claim is filed when an employee is laid off for a short period, but is expected to be rehired at the same job.

Chip Brownlee
Written By

Chip Brownlee is a former political reporter, online content manager and webmaster at the Alabama Political Reporter. He is now a reporter at The Trace, a non-profit newsroom covering guns in America.

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