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Is Omicron Variant A Boon Or Bane For The Unemployed?

The omicron virus is a variant of SARS-CoV-2(a virus that causes COVID-19). The first Cass of omicron was detected in South Africa on 24th November 2021.

Is Omicron Variant A Boon Or Bane For The Unemployed?

However, the level of deadlines of the virus is yet to be discovered. With the coming of this new variant, which is being considered more dangerous than the delta variant, the whole world is under a new threat.

Is Omicron Variant A Boon Or Bane For The Unemployed

Western countries like the UK are recording a daily spurt in omicron cases whereas, the USA is temporarily closing its Broadway shows and restaurants, as another wave of the virus is expected in the coming winters.

The cases in New York City have risen up to 7.8% between December 9 to 12. Keeping the precautions in mind, the restaurants outside New York City have shut their doors for the people too.

Cases of omicron across the USA are doubling every single day leading to affecting a whole large part of America.

The shutting down of workplaces has affected a large section of the working population of the American nation rendering them unemployed. 

However, the loss of jobs comes with unemployment benefits for the workers. But now the question is what are unemployment benefits?

What kind of workers is eligible to avail of the benefits?

What are the different kinds of benefits?

For how long does this support an unemployed worker financially? What are the criteria to avail this? and many more.

Let’s get started over this. The first thing which one should keep in mind is that the unemployment benefits rule is very complex and in-depth. It isn’t the same for all the US states and varies from one state to another. Another factor leading to its variation is the individual circumstances of the worker.

It isn’t necessary that the workers who were eligible for this scheme during the 1st wave will still remain eligible to avail of the benefits again. Sick people who miss their work, or self-employed people can’t avail this benefit.

Michele Evermore, a senior policy advisor for unemployment insurance in the U.S. The Labour Department said that “at last it also depends on the state workforce agency to determine if someone is eligible or not”.

At the bottom line, Evermore said that keeping everything aside workers must apply to avail this benefit if they think of themselves as qualified for it. However, she strictly advised the workers to be more vigilant while reporting their data on the application form.

Some important terms to know are:-

Partial Benefits

The partial benefit is a part of the full unemployment benefit triggered by a complete job loss.

Workers who are in redundancy and who lose significant work hours, both can be qualified for it.

In most states workers need to lose at least half of their weekly work to qualify. Rules around partial benefits may vary from state to state.

Eligibility criteria

Collection of benefits in the past year and earning history largely influence the eligibility of workers.

A benefit day is a 52 – week time duration during which one collects a set amount of weekly benefits. It is started by receiving state unemployment insurance.

The state calculates the weekly amount keeping the earning history into consideration. Workers can get a total of 26- benefit weeks during their benefit year.

But if someone has priorly collected benefits in the 1st wave of pandemic and has exhausted their 26 weeks allotment may face a hard time and have to wait till the next benefit year.

Extended benefit programs

It refers to the additional benefit weeks during a period of high joblessness. As per the data of the labor department till now it is available only in four US states, Alaska, Connecticut, New Jersey, and New Mexico.

Workers even search for new jobs either full or half time to avail the benefits.

Workers who miss their working hours/jobs temporarily due to sickness or covid quarantine may qualify for the benefits too, as states consider them as “able and available to work”.

Gig workers / Self-employed

The Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program, passed by congress expanded the workers pool eligible for unemployment benefits. Apart from paying the usual workers it also paid to the gig and self-employed workers. However, the program lapsed on Labour Day.

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