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  • Kirstin Kennedy

Unemployment Eligibility and the Coronavirus in Pennsylvania

The spread of and response to COVID-19, known as the Coronavirus, has caused an absolutely unprecedented onslaught of claims for unemployment compensation benefits in Pennsylvania and across the United States. In response, the Pennsylvania Office for Unemployment Compensation has issued several new standards and procedures to accommodate those who have lost their jobs as a result of stay-at-home and quarantine orders. If you are wondering whether or not you qualify for benefits, the following explains exactly what type of worker is eligible.


To start, unemployment compensation benefits are available to Pennsylvania workers who, by no fault of their own, have been separated from their employment. Workers who are unable to continue working due to the Coronavirus may be eligible for benefits through unemployment, and the department has recently issued some guidelines related to the process.

Eligible workers include those employees whose employer has temporarily closed or has gone out of business as a result COVID-19. For example, some store owners have chosen, in light of the pandemic, to temporarily close until the economy re-opens. The employees of that store, who are no longer able to work, may qualify for unemployment benefits. Other eligible workers are those who have had reduced hours because of the pandemic. For example, many restaurants and bars have become take-out only, reducing the need to wait staff for dine-in eaters. If your hours have been significantly reduced because of this, you, too, may be eligible for benefits. Additionally, some employers have instructed employees to not come to work in order to prevent the spread of the illness. If that is the case, again, you may be eligible for benefits.

In addition to stay-at-home orders, those who have potentially come into contact with the virus may have been instructed to quarantine or self-isolate. Sometimes the decision to do that is personal, and sometimes it is a result of an official government order. For example, Gov. Tom Wolf has ordered certain restrictions to several counties, including Philadelphia and Allegheny, which mandate that individuals stay at home. You may be eligible for benefits if you are impacted by these orders.

If you fit into any of those categories, you should apply for benefits online. In doing so, you will be prompted to answer a series of questions, and the Unemployment Compensation Service Center will review your application and determine whether or not you are eligible to collect benefits. For more information and additional resources, visit: https://www.uc.pa.gov/Pages/covid19.aspx.

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