Updated September 2021
1. What are my leave options if I am out with COVID-19 or caring for a family member with COVID-19?
2. Can an employer require employees to use leave if they are isolating for COVID-19 or subject to quarantine for exposure to COVID-19?
3. Can an employee refuse to go to work if they feel at risk for contracting COVID-19?
4. What protections does an employee have if they are retaliated against for using sick leave due to COVID-19?
5. Can an employer fire an employee because of the impact COVID-19 has had on its business?
6. After an isolation or quarantine period is complete, can an employer require an employee to get tested for coronavirus prior to returning to work?
7. Can an employer ask an employee for medical information to enter the workplace or when an employee calls in sick with COVID-19?
8. What do I do if I want to request the reasonable accommodation of teleworking or another accommodation because I have a disability that puts me at greater risk of COVID-19?
9. Can my employer require that I be vaccinated for COVID-19 to enter the workplace?
10. What other issues has the EEOC provided workplace COVID-19 guidance on?
11. How do I file for unemployment insurance if I can't work because of COVID-19?
12. What is expanded unemployment insurance?
13. How long will I be eligible for Unemployment Insurance benefits?
14. Are self-employed workers and workers in the gig economy eligible for unemployment compensation generally or the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (FPUA) benefit specifically?
15. How much pandemic unemployment assistance (PUA) would self-employed workers, individuals about to start work, and others receive?
16. What about tipped workers? Does their tip income count for UC?
17. What about workers in the performing arts and other industries that were about to start new jobs and had them canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic?
18. Can workers get Unemployment Insurance at the same time as they receive employer-provided paid leave?
19. Can self-employed workers get Unemployment Insurance and also claim the refundable tax credit for lost wages in the Families First Coronavirus Response Act?
20. When do the increased temporary emergency benefits end?
21. How much can I expect to receive because of the ARPA Act?
Under the Maryland Healthy Working Families Act (MHWFA), certain employees are eligible for paid sick leave (unpaid for employers with less than 15 workers) to care for the employee's illness or to care for a family member's illness. For more information about the MHWFA, visit https://www.dllr.state.md.us/paidleave/paidleavefaqs.pdf.
At the federal level, the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) may apply if you are out with COVID-19 or are caring for an ill family member. Under the FMLA, you may be eligible for job-protected unpaid leave for certain medical reasons. An employee on FMLA leave is entitled to the continuation of group health insurance coverage under the same terms existing before FMLA leave. For more information on whether you are covered by the FMLA, see the U.S. Department of Labor Wage and Hour Division.
Also, at the federal level, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) requires covered employers to provide eligible employees with paid sick and expanded family and medical leave for certain COVID-19 related reasons during a designated period in 2020. The requirement that employers provide paid sick or expanded family and medical leave under the FFCRA applies to leave taken or requested during the period of April 1, 2020, through December 31, 2020. For more information, visit Families First Coronavirus Response Act: Questions and Answers.
Yes, unless the employee used the sick leave provided for under the FFCRA (applicable period 4/1/20-12/31/20). For leave used under the FFCRA, an employer cannot require an employee to use other paid leave provided by the employer before using the federal Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act.
There is no law that provides job protection for an otherwise healthy employee who refuses to go to work out of fear of contracting COVID-19.
If an employee requests an extended period away from work to treat the employee's own case of COVID-19, or to care for a family member who contracted the virus, the employee may be protected from retaliation under the FMLA. If the leave was taken under the FFCRA (applicable period 4/1/20-12/31/20), the FFCRA provides for anti-retaliation protections for employees taking sick leave or extended FMLA leave for a broad range of situations associated with COVID-19, including self-quarantine. The MHWFA contains anti-retaliation provisions as well.
Yes, with some exceptions. An employee working under a contract would be covered by the terms of the contract. One such example would be a collective bargaining agreement.
There is nothing in Maryland law that would prohibit an employer from requiring that a quarantined employee get tested for coronavirus prior to returning to work. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has issued guidance on employer testing. For more information, visit https://www.eeoc.gov/wysk/what-you-should-know-about-covid-19-and-ada-rehabilitation-act-and-other-eeo-laws.
The EEOC has issued detailed guidance on an employer's ability to screen employees entering the workplace and to make medical inquiries regarding an employee's health and COVID-19. For more information, visit https://www.eeoc.gov/wysk/what-you-should-know-about-covid-19-and-ada-rehabilitation-act-and-other-eeo-laws.
The EEOC has issued detailed guidance on reasonable accommodations during the pandemic. For more information, visit https://www.eeoc.gov/wysk/what-you-should-know-about-covid-19-and-ada-rehabilitation-act-and-other-eeo-laws.
The EEOC has stated that federal equal employment opportunity laws do not prevent an employer from requiring all employees physically entering the workplace to be vaccinated for COVID-19, subject to reasonable accommodation requirements under the Americans with Disabilities Act, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, and other federal laws that bar a mandate for medical or religious reasons. For more information, visit https://www.eeoc.gov/wysk/what-you-should-know-about-covid-19-and-ada-rehabilitation-act-and-other-eeo-laws.
The EEOC has published “What You Should Know About COVID-19 and the ADA, the Rehabilitation Act and other EEO laws." This guidance covers disability-related inquiries and medical exams; the confidentiality of medical information; hiring and onboarding; reasonable accommodations; pandemic-related harassment due to national origin, race, or other protected characteristics; furloughs and layoffs; return to work; age; caregivers/family responsibilities; pregnancy; and vaccinations. For more information, visit https://www.eeoc.gov/wysk/what-you-should-know-about-covid-19-and-ada-rehabilitation-act-and-other-eeo-laws.
The unemployment insurance program is administered by the Maryland Department of Labor. The Department has FAQs on their website that address many questions related to claims for unemployment insurance benefits amid the COVID-19 crisis: http://www.dllr.maryland.gov/employment/claimfaq.shtml#uicovidfaqs.
The White House and Congress agreed on a $1.9 trillion-dollar stimulus package, entitled the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA), that expands both the length and amount of unemployment insurance benefits that are available to unemployed individuals and expands the type of workers that may be eligible for benefits. The ARPA provisions extend several temporary federal unemployment insurance programs, including Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC), Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC), and Mixed Earner Unemployment Compensation (MEUC).
Maryland provides up to 26 weeks of Unemployment Insurance benefits. During the 26 weeks, the claimant must maintain Unemployment Insurance benefits eligibility requirements, including being able to work, being available to work, and actively seeking work. For more information on the work search requirement, visit http://labor.maryland.gov/employment/claimfaq.shtml#asw.
In Maryland, self-employed and gig economy workers are generally not covered under the unemployment compensation system and therefore are not eligible for benefits (in part because they do not have employers who contribute to Maryland's Unemployment Insurance system). However, under the CARES Act, self-employed workers whose states make an agreement with the Department of Labor will receive Federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance based on their recent earnings and will also be able to receive the $600 a week FPUC supplement on top of that benefit.
Those eligible for the FPUA include self-employed workers and independent contractors, gig workers, freelancers, workers seeking part-time work, workers who do not have a long-enough work history to qualify for state Unemployment Insurance benefits, and workers who are unable to work or telework as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Applicants will need to self-certify that they are (1) partially or fully unemployed, or (2) unable and unavailable to work because of one of the following circumstances as outlined in the CARES Act:
Workers are not eligible for the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program if they are receiving paid sick days or paid leave.
The Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program ran from January 27, 2020, through September 4, 2021. Workers will be eligible for retroactive benefits and can access benefits for a maximum of 39 weeks. Individuals will be able to apply through the Division of Unemployment Insurance at the Maryland Department of Labor, either online or over the phone. No payments of PUA, FPUC, PEUC, or MEUC benefits will be made for any weeks of unemployment that ended after September 4, 2021.
The amount would vary by state. All PUA recipients would be eligible for the $600 a week FPUC supplement. You would also receive a base benefit calculated according to Maryland's benefit formulas and using recent information about your wages, but no lower than half the state's minimum regular UC payment.
Under federal law, tips are considered part of compensation for Unemployment Insurance benefits. However, states only have the tip income reported by employers, who sometimes underreport them, in violation of federal law. If employers fail to follow the law and do not accurately report tip income, it might lower state Unemployment Insurance benefits for those workers, or, in extreme cases, cause them not to have enough recent income to qualify for Unemployment Insurance under state law. Under the CARES Act, tipped workers who qualify for Unemployment Insurance will all receive the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation, an additional $600 a week payment, on top of their state Unemployment Insurance payment like any other worker receiving UC benefits. Unemployed workers who do not have enough reported income to qualify for state Unemployment Insurance benefits, but are able and available to work but for COVID-19, would likely be eligible for a smaller federal payment, depending on their state's implementation of Pandemic Unemployment Assistance.
Workers who had a contract or other offer of employment suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic would be eligible for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance calculated by Maryland's Unemployment Insurance program, and also for the $600 a week FPUC supplement.
No, workers who are receiving paid leave are not eligible for Unemployment Insurance.
No, workers who elect to claim the refundable credit would not be eligible for Unemployment Insurance for that time period.
The American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) provisions extend several temporary federal unemployment insurance programs, including Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC), Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC), and Mixed Earner Unemployment Compensation (MEUC). The ARPA was signed into law on March 11, 2021, and the ARPA unemployment insurance programs expired on Saturday, September 4, 2021.
Maryland's maximum unemployment benefits are $430 per week.
Under PUA, the Weekly Benefit Amount (WBA) is calculated based on your earnings in the prior Calendar Year, with a minimum WBA of $176.
Under PEUC, the benefit amount is the same as the Regular Unemployment Insurance WBA that you received.
Under FPUC, eligible claimants will receive an additional $300 per week in unemployment benefits. The additional benefits are available from the weeks ending March 20, 2021, to September 4, 2021, in Maryland.
Under MEUC, claimants who earned qualifying employment and self-employment income, and who also receive benefits under the Regular UI, PEUC, EB, or Work Sharing programs, may receive an additional $100 weekly benefit. PUA claimants are not eligible for MEUC.
The ARPA unemployment insurance programs expired on Saturday, September 4, 2021.
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