News from Representative Luria

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Dear Friend,

During this national health and economic emergency, I am working to keep Coastal Virginians healthy and to protect our economy. Part of my duty during this crisis is to keep constituents informed with the most relevant and best available information. Below is a helpful FAQ from the Governor’s office with information for employees, gig workers, and more. To read the Governor’s full FAQ, please click here.

My employer has cut my hours back due to the coronavirus. What can I do?

If your weekly earnings fall below what would be your weekly unemployment insurance benefit, you may file a claim for partial Unemployment Insurance (UI) benefits with the Virginia Employment Commission (VEC). For more information on UI and to file a claim, please see here. A detailed guide to applying is available here. Please be sure to put "Lack of Work" as your reason for separation from employment on the application.

I am a gig worker (i.e. self-employed or independent contractor). Do I qualify for unemployment insurance if I lose work due to COVID-19?

The self-employed, independent contractors, and other gig workers are eligible to receive Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The weekly benefit amount will be provided for 39 weeks, along with an additional $600 as provided in the law.

Once the federal Department of Labor issues guidance to states on the administration of PUA, individuals will be able to file a claim with the Virginia Employment Commission (VEC). For updates and to file a claim, please see here. A detailed guide to applying for unemployment benefits can be found here. Once filing is open for this program, please be sure to put “Lack of Work” as your reason for separation from employment on the application.

I feel that my employer is not taking the necessary precautions to maintain a safe working environment in this public health crisis, and they are also not allowing me to telework. What can I do?

Guidance for essential businesses on how to avoid the spread of COVID-19 in their facilities can be found here. Virginia does not currently have the authority to enforce sanitation efforts, but if there is a concern of an outbreak at your facility, contact your local health department immediately. If your employer is in need of financial support for the sanitization of facilities, please refer to the following question of this FAQ. The Virginia Occupational Safety and Health (VOSH) Program through the Virginia Department of Labor and Industry (DOLI) is responsible for enforcing occupational safety and health laws and regulations in the private and public sectors. For more information about VOSH standards or to file a complaint against your employer for failing to comply with the Governor’s COVID_19-related directives, please see here.

Apart from unemployment insurance for employees, what other resources are available to support businesses during the COVID-19 crisis?

Rapid Response Funds to Assist Small Businesses: 

Rapid Response is a federal program to help workers, companies, and communities experiencing layoffs and closures and provide strategies to avert layoffs. Virginia will help businesses avert COVID-19-related layoffs by providing additional Rapid Response assistance for the sanitization of workspaces, implementation of telework options to support social distancing that the company has not supported prior, or other innovative strategies that help keep employees on the job. Businesses may apply for the assistance through their regional workforce boards. To contact your regional workforce board director, please click here.

Employee Retention Credits for Employers: 

This provision through the Federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act provides a refundable payroll tax credit for a percentage of wages paid by eligible employers to certain employees during the COVID-19 crisis. The credit is available to employers, including non-profits, whose operations have been fully or partially suspended as a result of a government order limiting commerce, travel or group meetings. The credit is also provided to employers who have experienced a greater than 50 percent reduction in quarterly receipts, measured on a year-over-year basis. To learn more, please see here.

Small Business Disaster Loans: 

Following a request submitted by Governor Northam on March 18, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) approved an Economic Injury Disaster Loan declaration for Virginia. Small businesses and nonprofit organizations throughout the Commonwealth affected by the COVID-19 public health crisis can now apply for low-interest federal disaster loans of up to $2 million from the SBA to pay fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable, and other expenses. A $10,000 loan advance, which does not need to be repaid, is also available. You can submit a loan application through the SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan program here.

Please know that my team and I stand ready to assist our community during this time of need. You can find this entire FAQ here. For additional resources to help you and your family navigate through COVID-19, please see here. If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to our offices via the phone numbers below.





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