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Gov. Evers announces executive order making changes to unemployment amid coronavirus

Gov. Tony Evers

MADISON — Gov. Tony Evers on Tuesday, March 17 announced he will issue an emergency order Wednesday, March 18 to waive work search requirements and modify the availability requirements for unemployment insurance benefits for workers impacted by COVID-19.

A news release noted Gov. Evers is working with the Wisconsin State Legislature to quickly act to waive the one-week waiting period for benefits so that much-needed unemployment insurance funds make it to affected workers quickly.

Gov. Evers announced that his order will waive the requirement that UI claimants conduct at least four weekly work search actions during the COVID-19 emergency. His order will also ensure that claimants who are otherwise eligible but out of work due to COVID-19 are considered available for work and therefore eligible for benefits.

“Tomorrow’s emergency order will take advantage of the federal guidance related to administering unemployment insurance benefit claims during the pandemic period and allows the program to support our workers who have been affected by the COVID-19 outbreak,” Gov. Evers said. “I am urging the Wisconsin State Legislature to quickly act and repeal the one week waiting period for UI benefits, so UI funds can quickly get to affected workers to support those households and our communities.

Gov. Evers’ proposed 2019-2021 state budget had eliminated the one week waiting period for UI.

The Wisconsin AFL-CIO released the following statement:

“Working families need bold support from our leaders. It is positive to see concrete, policy decisions around unemployment put forward by Governor Tony Evers,” said Dennis Delie, Secretary-Treasurer of the Wisconsin AFL-CIO and member of the Wisconsin Unemployment Insurance Advisory Council. “The Wisconsin Legislature must come together immediately to lift the one-week unemployment benefit waiting period. We call on all legislators to vote in favor of this. These actions will make a difference for working families who are suddenly and unexpectedly facing job loss due to the COVID-19 pandemic.”

“Gov. Evers is leading during this unprecedented time of uncertainty for working people in Wisconsin and across the United States,” said Stephanie Bloomingdale, president of the Wisconsin AFL-CIO. “This is why elections matter. This is why Wisconsin voters elected Governor Tony Evers. Governor Evers inherently understands that it is paramount to prioritize the needs of working families when making policy decisions as is clearly evident today in the COVID-19 coronavirus public health emergency.”

The Wisconsin AFL-CIO recently released a statement on COVID-19 and Wisconsin workers, which can be found here. The Wisconsin AFL-CIO has called on officials from relevant agencies to enact the following commonsense policy responses to this emergency:

  • Establish a minimum 14-day sick day bank for every worker impacted by the pandemic.
  • No worker should be punished or ‘dinged’ for calling in sick.
  • The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) must issue an emergency temporary standard to ensure the immediate protection of workers in health care workplaces and other high-risk workplaces identified by the Centers for Disease Control.
  • Those who are affected by the virus while receiving unemployment benefits should be exempt from the 1-week waiting period and the requirement to search for work.
  • Ensure that working people understand that if they are injured or infected as a result of their work, they are entitled to worker’s compensation benefits.
  • All people should have access to free COVID-19 testing and no person should have to incur any cost whatsoever, whether in the form of copays, deductibles, or out-of-pocket costs, related to treatment for COVID-19. Costs should not be a barrier to testing and treatment.
  • Personal Protective Equipment should be readily available for anyone tasked with treating potentially infected populations.
  • Coronavirus related time off should not count against a worker’s Family and Medical Leave Act benefits.
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