Advocating for Transparency, Fairness in PA’s Unemployment Compensation System During COVID-19 Pandemic
Unemployment compensation has been a key component of the government response to the pandemic. While it made sense to utilize an existing system to drive financial support to impacted individuals, it has become clear that the current law lacks clarity and guidance necessary to fairly and efficiently address pandemic-related claims. This has led to some unintended consequences, including workforce challenges for employers, many of whom report employees quitting or refusing offers to return to work.
Many areas of the law have been temporarily updated to account for the current unique circumstances – so should unemployment compensation.
The Chamber is advocating for legislation to add transparency, predictability and fairness to the process of determining eligibility for unemployment benefits based on pandemic-related reasons. For example, we believe a claimant with an underlying medical condition who quits a job based on their doctor’s advice should be eligible and not have to worry about benefits being denied. At the same time, an employee considering quitting because benefits may be more lucrative than wages should know in advance that they will not be eligible.
The Department of Labor & Industry has been strained by millions of unemployment claims since March and many claimants waited months to get an initial response. While this crisis has generally been beyond anyone’s control, its severity can be contained somewhat going forward with more transparent guidelines, which means fewer contested claims, and a more efficient process for resolving disputes, which helps avoid logjams.