Unemployment COVID-19 Public Information

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Frequently asked questions about the COVID-19 Coronavirus and Wisconsin Unemployment Benefits for claimants and employers.

Last updated on 4/3/2020 at 3:00 pm

Information for Claimants

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We are awaiting guidance from the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL). Once received, we will program our systems to accommodate the changes. It will take several weeks to receive all of the information from the Federal Government. Please check our website often: https://dwd.wisconsin.gov/uiben/caresact; We will have the most up-to-date information there.

Yes, there is still a waiting week. Governor Tony Evers released draft legislation that would repeal the waiting week, which would permit a claimant to receive UI benefits beginning with his or her first week of eligibility, but the legislature has not acted to vote on it. The waiting week is state law that was enacted with Act 32 in 2011 and requires legislative action to repeal.

If you cannot get through immediately, it is ok. You do not need to talk to us today.

If you started an initial application and were directed to contact us, or you started an application and got stuck and need to talk to us for assistance, you have 28 days to do so. The system knows you started the application and will not erase it for 28 days.

The system recognizes when you start a claim. As long as you start a claim in the week and complete that claim within 28 days you may still be eligible for benefits.

Mail the documents to:

    Unemployment Insurance
    PO Box 7905
    Madison, WI 53707-7905

We have updated our system to now allow you to change your name online. Please log in at https://my.unemployment.wisconsin.gov. Near the top of the page, click on "Unemployment Services" and "Change Personal Information." After you have entered your current information, click on "Next" and continue to follow the prompts.

Currently, you may go back two weeks from the week you start your initial application without an eligibility issue. Once you begin the claim, you will be brought to a calendar. Simply choose the correct week you want the claim to begin.

As a result of Governor Evers Emergency Order, you do not need to do a work search during the Governor's declared emergency. The Department is in the process of making the necessary updates. No action is needed on your part regarding the work search.

Some individuals who apply for Unemployment Insurance (UI) may be required to register with the Job Center of Wisconsin (JCW). You will be notified upon completion of your claim if you are required to complete the registration. More information can be found on our Registration for Work FAQ.

Registration is a requirement of Unemployment Insurance (UI) program and must be completed in order to maintain eligibility for benefits. More information can be found on our Registration for Work FAQ.

Not regular unemployment benefits. However, you may be under the CARES Act (i.e., Federal Stimulus Bill). We are awaiting guidance from the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL). Once received, we will program our systems to accommodate the changes. It will take several weeks to receive all of the information from the Federal Government. Please check our website often: https://dwd.wisconsin.gov/uiben/caresact; We will have the most up-to-date information there.

Wisconsin unemployment benefits are available to individuals who are unemployed through no fault of their own. If an employer must shut down operations and no work is available, individuals may be eligible for unemployment benefits if they meet the monetary criteria and the weekly eligibility criteria.

Wisconsin unemployment benefits are available to individuals who are unemployed through no fault of their own. If an employer must shut down operations and no work is available, individuals may be eligible for unemployment benefits if they meet the monetary criteria and the weekly eligibility criteria even if their employer has not told them they are laid off.

Wisconsin unemployment benefits are available to individuals partially unemployed due to working reduced hours. Individuals may be eligible for unemployment benefits if they meet the monetary criteria and the weekly eligibility criteria.

In most cases, no. Unemployment benefits are available to individuals who are totally or partially unemployed due to no fault of their own. In this example, the individual—not the employer—is choosing not to work and, therefore, would be ineligible. However, the facts of each circumstance are important. If the employer allowed this individual to telework, they would not qualify for benefits because they would not be unemployed. If the employer required the individual to stay home but did not offer telework, the individual might be eligible for benefits if they met the monetary and weekly eligibility criteria.

If an employee meets the initial eligibility criteria, are able to work although displaying symptoms like a cough/cold or due to exposure and willing to work, but are quarantined by local, state or federal direction or guidance, and intend to return work upon recovery or would be available for work with another employer but for the perceived COVID-19 symptoms, the employee may meet the able and available requirement.

No. The federal requirements mandate that claimants be able to work, available for work, and actively seeking suitable work. If someone is so ill that they are unable to work, they would not meet these criteria.

Disaster Unemployment Assistance is not available. However, if you are not eligible for regular unemployment benefits, you may be eligible for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), outlined in the CARES Act (i.e., Federal Stimulus Bill). We are awaiting guidance from the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL). Once received, we will program our systems to accommodate the changes. It will take several weeks to receive all of the information from the Federal Government. Please check our website often: https://dwd.wisconsin.gov/uiben/caresact; We will have the most up-to-date information there.

If this closure is not during a customary break period, or extends longer than the customary break period, individuals may be eligible for unemployment benefits if they meet the monetary and weekly eligibility criteria.

Some individuals who apply for UI may be required to participate in the Re-Employment Services program, which provides additional services to help them get back to work more quickly. Previously, the program required participants attend an in-person workshop. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, this workshop will now be conducted remotely over the phone. Participants should watch their email for updates.

All Re-Employment Services sessions scheduled after Friday, March 20, 2020 will be conducted over the phone as "tele-sessions." What participants should know:

  • After registering on JobCenterofWisconsin.com (JCW) and creating a resume, individuals may be asked to view an online orientation and take an assessment.
  • At the end of the assessment, participants will be informed if they must participate in the Re-Employment Services program.
  • Participants will be asked to sign up for a three-hour window for the "tele-session."
  • The participant will be called at some point during the three-hour window they have selected.
  • A presentation will be emailed to the participant prior to the phone call for reference.
  • The participant must be available and answer the phone when called by the Re-Employment Services facilitator.
  • The facilitator will call twice.
  • Failure to answer the phone after the two attempts could result in a loss of UI benefits.
  • The incoming call may be from an "unknown" or "blocked" caller.

It is up the to the participant to ensure their contact information is correct. Contact information can be reviewed on JobCenterofWisconsin.com under "My Account" on the top right of the screen.

If you fail to participate in your mandatory session, you may be denied unemployment benefits unless it is determined you had good cause for missing the session.

Some individuals who apply for UI may be required to participate in the Re-Employment Services program, which provides additional services to help them get back to work more quickly. Previously, the program required participants to attend an in-person workshop. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, this workshop will now be conducted remotely over the phone. Participants should watch their email for updates.

All Re-Employment Services sessions scheduled after Friday, March 20, 2020 will be conducted over the phone as "tele-sessions." What participants should know:

  • After registering on JobCenterofWisconsin.com (JCW) and creating a resume, individuals may be asked to view an online orientation and take an assessment.
  • At the end of the assessment, participants will be informed if they must participate in the Re-Employment Services program.
  • Participants will be asked to sign up for a three-hour window for the "tele-session."
  • The participant will be called at some point during the three-hour window they have selected.
  • A presentation will be emailed to the participant prior to the phone call for reference.
  • The participant must be available and answer the phone when called by the Re-Employment Services facilitator.
  • The facilitator will call twice.
  • Failure to answer the phone after the two attempts could result in a loss of UI benefits.
  • The incoming call may be from an "unknown" or "blocked" caller.

It is up the to the participant to ensure their contact information is correct. Contact information can be reviewed on JobCenterofWisconsin.com under "My Account" on the top right of the screen.

No, filing for unemployment benefits should not negatively affect a noncitizen's immigration status or result in a public charge bar to residency or other nonimmigration status in the future. To be eligible for unemployment benefits, noncitizen workers have to meet the same requirements as U.S. citizen workers in Wisconsin. Note: To qualify for unemployment benefits, noncitizen residents must be authorized to work in the United States and their wages used to determine eligibility for benefits must be earned while authorized to work in the United States.

The key is whether you are available for full-time work. If you are capable of performing full-time work if it is made available to you, you would be considered available for work and may be eligible for unemployment.

Not yet. If Wisconsin qualifies, federal legislation that was passed on March 18, 2020 will provide up to 26 weeks of Extended Benefits. If Wisconsin qualifies, updates will be provided. See Unemployment Extensions FAQs for more information about extensions.

Information for Employers

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Wisconsin unemployment benefits are available to individuals who are unemployed through no fault of their own. If an employer must shut down operations and no work is available, individuals may be eligible for unemployment benefits if they meet the monetary criteria and the weekly eligibility criteria.

Unemployment benefits are proportionately charged to each employer based on weeks worked and wages earned in each individual’s base period. Contributory employers could see an increase in their tax rate, which would result in higher taxes. Reimbursable employers would be charged dollar for dollar for benefits paid, which could result in higher than expected unemployment costs.

In most cases, no. Unemployment benefits are available to individuals who are totally or partially unemployed due to no fault of their own. In this example, the individual—not the employer—is choosing not to work and, therefore, would be ineligible. However, the facts of each circumstance are important. If the employer allowed this individual to telework, they would not qualify for benefits because they would not be unemployed. If the employer required the individual to stay home but did not offer telework, the individual might be eligible for benefits if they met the monetary and weekly eligibility criteria.

If an employee meets the initial eligibility criteria, are able to work although displaying symptoms like a cough/cold or due to exposure and willing to work, but are quarantined by local, state or federal direction or guidance, and intend to return work upon recovery or would be available for work with another employer but for the perceived COVID-19 symptoms, the employee may meet the able and available requirement.

No. The federal requirements mandate that claimants be able to work, available for work, and actively seeking suitable work. If someone is ill, they would not meet these criteria.