Yesterday evening, March 17, 2020, the Maine Legislature passed Legislative Document No. 2167, “An Act to Implement Provisions Necessary to the Health, Welfare and Safety of the Citizens of Maine in Response to the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency” as emergency legislation to take effect immediately. Included in the Act is a provision that makes employees who are temporarily laid off due to the COVID-19 crisis, or who are sick or quarantined or caring for a family member as a result of COVID-19, eligible for unemployment benefits. There is no waiting period, and there will be no charge against the employer’s experience rating record. If you are in the unfortunate circumstance of having to temporarily cease operations during this public health emergency, the State of Maine has provided a safety net for your employees. Employees should be advised of this emergency unemployment benefit if you need to suspend operations or if an employee is quarantined or caring for a sick family member as a result of COVID-19.
Please see the pertinent excerpt from LD 2167, along with the brief legislative summary on the unemployment provision, below.
Sec. B-1. 26 MRSA §1199 is enacted to read:
§1199. Provisions under a declared state of emergency
The provisions of this section apply for the duration of a state of emergency declared
by the Governor pursuant to Title 37-B, section 742 due to the outbreak of COVID-19,
and for 30 days following the termination of that state of emergency.
1. Benefits not charged against employer. Notwithstanding section 1191 or 1221,
if an individual is dislocated or temporarily laid off as a result of the state of emergency,
benefits paid to that individual under this subchapter may not be charged against the
experience rating record of any employer but must be charged to the General Fund.
2. Eligibility. An individual is deemed to have met the eligibility requirements
under section 1192, subsections 2 and 3 as long as the individual remains able and
available to work for, and maintains contact with, the relevant employer and the
A. Under a temporary medical quarantine or isolation restriction to ensure that the
individual has not been affected by the subject condition of the state of emergency
and is expected to return to work; or
B. Temporarily laid off due to a partial or full closure of the individual’s place of
employment as a result of the state of emergency and is expected to return to work
once the emergency closure is lifted.
3. Waiting period waived. The waiting period requirement under section 1192,
subsection 4-A is waived for an individual who is dislocated or temporarily laid off as a
result of the state of emergency.
4. Temporary leave of absence due to COVID-19. Notwithstanding section 1193,
subsection 1, during the state of emergency, an individual who is on a temporary leave of
absence due to a medical quarantine or isolation restriction, a demonstrated risk of
exposure or infection or a need to care for a dependent family member as a result of
COVID-19 is not disqualified from receiving benefits during this absence as long as the
individual continues to remain able and available to work for, and maintains contact with,
the relevant employer.
. . .
Part B revises certain unemployment insurance eligibility and benefit charging
provisions under the Employment Security Law to protect public health during the state
of emergency by allowing an individual who takes a temporary leave of absence due to
COVID-19 to qualify for unemployment benefits.