Marcia Hultman

Cabinet Secretary

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Pandemic Unemployment Assistance — Coverage

Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) — Examples of Employment Impacted by COVID-19

PUA provides unemployment benefits to eligible individuals who are self-employed, independent contractors, nonprofit employees and gig economy workers, as well as to individuals working part-time, or who otherwise would not qualify for regular Unemployment Compensation (UC) or Extended Benefits (EB) under state or federal law or PEUC and have had their employment impacted by COVID-19.

Coverage under PUA (with Examples)

It is important to remember that many of the listed reasons may only last for a short duration. For example, a person who is ordered to self-quarantine due to exposure may be able to return to work within 2 weeks. Also, once a school year has ended, it is no longer closed due to COVID-19.

The fundamental requirements of regular unemployment compensation still apply: (1) individuals are only entitled to benefits if they are no longer working through no fault of their own, and (2) they are able and available to work. 

To be covered under PUA, individuals must also self-certify they are otherwise able to work and available to work under state law, except that they are unemployed, partially unemployed, unable to work or unavailable to work due to at least one of the following reasons. View examples and explanations below (this list is not exhaustive and other qualifying circumstances may apply):

  • The individual has been diagnosed with COVID-19 or is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and is seeking a medical diagnosis;
    • An individual who has to quit his or her job as a direct result of COVID-19 because the individual has tested positive for the coronavirus or has been diagnosed with COVID-19 by a qualified medical professional, and continuing work activities, such as through telework, is not possible by virtue of such diagnosis or condition;
    • An individual who has to quit his or her job due to coming in direct contact with someone who has tested positive for the coronavirus or has been diagnosed by a medical professional as having COVID-19, and, on the advice of a qualified medical health professional is required to resign from his or her position in order to quarantine.
  • A member of the individual’s household has been diagnosed with COVID-19;
    • A member of the individual’s household has been diagnosed as having COVID-19 by a qualified medical professional or a member of the individual’s household has tested positive for COVID-19 and the individual is unable to work as a result.
  • The individual is providing care for a family member or a member of the individual’s household who has been diagnosed with COVID-19;
    • An individual is “providing care” for a family member or a member of the individual’s household if the provision of care requires such ongoing and constant attention that the individual’s ability to perform other work functions is severely limited. An individual who is assisting a family member who is able to adequately care for him or herself is not “providing care” under this category.
  • A child or other person in the household for which the individual has primary caregiving responsibility is unable to attend school or another facility that is closed as a direct result of the COVID-19 public health emergency and such school or facility care is required for the individual to work;
    • An individual has “primary caregiving responsibility” for a child or other person in the household if he or she is required to remain at home to care for the child or other person.
    • This includes an individual whose job allows for telework, but for whom the provision of care to the child or other person with a closed school or other facility requires such ongoing and constant attention that it is not possible for the individual to perform work at home.
  • The individual is unable to reach the place of employment because of a quarantine imposed as a direct result of the COVID-19 public health emergency;
    • An individual who is unable to reach his or her place of employment because doing so would require the violation of a state or municipal order restricting travel that was instituted to combat the spread of COVID-19.
  • The individual is unable to reach the place of employment because the individual has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine due to concerns related to COVID-19;
    • An individual who has been advised by a qualified medical professional that he or she may be infected with the coronavirus and that he or she therefore should self-quarantine. For example, an individual had direct contact with another person who has tested positive for the coronavirus or been diagnosed with COVID-19 by a qualified medical professional and is advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine to prevent further possible spread of the virus. Such circumstances would render the individual unable to reach his or her place of employment.
    • An individual whose immune system is compromised by virtue of a serious health condition and is therefore advised by a health care provider to self quarantine in order to avoid the greater-than-average health risks that the individual might face if he or she were to become infected by the coronavirus.
  • The individual was scheduled to commence employment and does not have a job or is unable to reach the job as a direct result of the COVID-19 public health emergency;
    • An individual is unable to reach his or her job because doing so would require the violation of a state or municipal order restricting travel that was instituted to combat the spread of the coronavirus or the employer has closed the place of employment.
    • An individual does not have a job because the employer with whom the individual was scheduled to commence employment has rescinded the job offer as a direct result of the COVID-19 public health emergency
  • The individual has become the breadwinner or major support for a household because the head of the household has died as a direct result of COVID-19;
    • An individual whose head of household previously contributed the majority of financial support to the household died as a direct result of COVID-19, and the individual is now the person in the household expected to provide such financial support.
  • The individual has to quit his or her job as a direct result of COVID-19;
    • An individual was diagnosed with COVID-19 by a qualified medical professional, and although the individual no longer has COVID-19, the illness caused health complications that render the individual objectively unable to perform his or her essential job functions, with or without a reasonable accommodation.
  • The individual’s place of employment is closed as a direct result of the COVID-19 public health emergency;
    • If a business is shut down due to an emergency declaration or due to necessary social distancing protocols, the unemployment of individuals who worked in the business would be considered a direct result of COVID-19.
  • The individual is self-employed, including an independent contractor or gig worker, and experienced a significant reduction of services because of the COVID-19 public health emergency.

Also, for purposes of PUA, an individual does not have to quit his or her job as a result of COVID-19 if paid sick leave or other paid leave benefits are available to the individual. “Has to quit” under PUA means ceasing employment is an involuntary decision compelled by the identified circumstances.

Back to PUA main page.

Back to CARES Act main page.