In the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, many businesses have fallen on hard times, some to the point where layoffs have been unavoidable. If your business has had to lay off employees due to the storm and the flooding that ensued, here’s what you need to know about employees filing unemployment claims.
Regular Unemployment Insurance (UI) Claims
- If a private-sector employer must lay off an employee due to a business closure (temporary or permanent) resulting from a natural disaster, and the affected employee files a claim during the period of closure, it is possible to receive protection from a chargeback of regular unemployment benefits. (Reimbursing employers and public employers are not eligible for this protection.)
- To receive chargeback protection, you must respond to any claim notices or rulings promptly and explain the precise circumstances surrounding the layoff.
Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA)
- DUA benefits are available for victims of disaster who (a) have applied for and used all funds from regular UI benefits from any state, OR (b) do not qualify for unemployment benefits, and meet certain requirements as a result of the disaster. (For a description of the requirements for DUA claims, visit http://www.twc.state.tx.us/jobseekers/disaster-unemployment-assistance.)
- Disaster unemployment assistance (DUA) is paid from federal funds and is not charged back to employers (public, private, taxed, or reimbursing).
Termination Due to Evacuation
- Note that reinstatement and damages can be awarded to an employee if they were illegally terminated due to an inability to work related to evacuation. For more infomration see: http://www.twc.state.tx.us/jobseekers/emergency-evacuation-discrimination
For more information about disaster-related employment law topics, visit the Texas Workforce Commission’s page Hurricane Aftermath – Employment Law Issues.