NASHVILLE – The Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development (TDLWD) has started paying unemployment benefits that are part of the CARES Act Extension HR 133 which President Donald Trump signed into law one week ago.
TDLWD is currently paying benefits to eligible claimants from four separate unemployment programs:
• Tennessee Unemployment Compensation (TUC)
• Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA)
• Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC)
• Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC)
Monday, Jan. 4, TDLWD began issuing FPUC payments to eligible claimants. FPUC provides an additional $300 to a claimant’s weekly benefit payment from another unemployment program. FPUC can provide up to 11 weeks of benefits between Dec. 27, 2020, and March 13, 2021. Claimants should see the new benefit in this week’s payment.
Claimants receiving benefits from both state and federal programs, who did not exhaust their benefit amount, can complete their weekly certifications for the week ending Jan. 2.
If a claimant exhausted benefits before Dec. 26, they must wait for additional information regarding the continuation of benefits through provisions listed in HR 133. The United States Department of Labor (USDOL) has not issued its final guidance for the implementation of every aspect of HR 133.
Tennessee will take part in the new federal Mixed Earners Unemployment Compensation (MEUC) program the federal government offered states the opportunity to opt into through HR 133.
MEUC will benefit Tennesseans who are mixed earners. A mixed earner is someone who has 1099 wages as an independent contractor but also earned wages from a covered Tennessee employer. Previously, USDOL would only allow states to determine a mixed earner’s benefit amount based on wages from an employer. MEUC will allow states to use both sources of income to calculate a weekly benefit amount.
This is a new program and USDOL has not issued any guidance on the implementation of MEUC. Once states receive program rules, Tennessee and its vendor will build this latest federal program into the state’s unemployment computer system. There is no timeline as to when TDLWD will begin paying benefits from the new program.
Another provision within HR 133 requires states to have methods in place for employers to report claimants who refuse offers of suitable work.
Tennessee law requires unemployment claimants to accept suitable work when offered by an employer or risk disqualification from the unemployment benefits program.
If an employer contacts the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development (TDLWD) and notifies the agency an applicant who is receiving unemployment did not accept a job offer, the agency will investigate the allegation.
TDLWD requires the employer to provide the name of the claimant, the job title refused, the job’s pay rate, and the required job duties.
Employers can submit that information through the REFUSAL TO WORK portal available here: https://lwdsupport.tn.gov/hc/en-us/requests/new?ticket_form_id=360005461794
If the agency finds a claimant did refuse suitable work, the individual will lose unemployment benefits and they could potentially be liable to pay back any benefits received after the employer notified TDLWD of the refusal.
Employers may also report any employee who refuses a request they return to work by submitting information through the REFUSAL TO RETURN TO WORK portal available here: https://lwdsupport.tn.gov/hc/en-us/requests/new?ticket_form_id=360003403833