Lawmakers highlight help available to workers, employers impacted by COVID-19
State Reps. Karen Engleman, R-Georgetown, and Steve Davisson, R-Salem, encourage Hoosier workers and small businesses impacted by the coronavirus pandemic to access recently expanded state and federal resources for help.
Under Indiana’s temporary “stay-at-home” order, many businesses deemed not essential have laid off staff or cannot pay employees while they are shut down. To help, Gov. Eric Holcomb expanded unemployment coverage to those impacted, including Hoosiers whose work hours were reduced, those under medical quarantine and employees who cannot continue to work because of lack of child care options.
“This temporary way of life has a lot of Hoosiers looking for help, and these resources provide some financial safety nets to the thousands who are impacted,” Engleman said. “These are tough times, and together we can get through this.”
The Indiana Dept. of Workforce Development said Hoosiers should file for unemployment insurance if their employment has been interrupted or ended due to COVID-19 and their claim will be evaluated. Individuals must apply for UI benefits online, using a computer or smart phone at Unemployment.IN.gov. For questions, the state asks Hoosiers to review the Frequently Asked Questions, the Claimant Handbook or the online video tutorials before calling the 1-800-891-6499 helpline, which continues to experience a high volume of calls.
Indiana waived the one-week waiting period for payment of unemployment benefits, and it is retroactive to March 8, 2020. Qualified claimants can typically receive benefits for up to 26 weeks, but this has been extended by an additional 13 weeks. Engleman said, thanks to the action of the federal government, unemployed workers who file and are approved will see an extra $600 per week for four months.
Davisson said small businesses, small agricultural cooperatives and nonprofits can receive up to $2 million in low-interest loans through the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program to help meet financial obligations and operating expenses, which could have been met had the disaster not occurred. The loans may be used to pay fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable and other bills that cannot be paid because of the disaster’s impact. The loan interest rates for small businesses and nonprofits are 3.75% and 2.75%, respectively, with terms up to 30 years.
“Many of our small businesses changed their business models to try to make the best adjustments to remain open,” Davisson said. “To help these business owners and those who have shut down completely, these loans can prevent businesses from closing permanently so they can eventually return to normal operations.”
Davisson said businesses’ merit rate/tax rate will not be impacted if they lay off employees due to the coronavirus.