New Executive Order Allows Furloughed Employees to Qualify for Unemployment
April 08, 2020
Today Gov. Henry McMaster issued a new executive order authorizing and directing DEW to interpret furloughed employees as eligible to receive Unemployment Insurance benefits. The order includes the following:
- In acknowledging that employees may need to be furloughed due to the ongoing and anticipated economic impacts associated with COVID-19, some employers have indicated a desire to offset the financial impacts of such furloughs by making voluntary COVID-19-related support payments (“COVID-19 Support Payments”), as set forth below, to certain employees.
- COVID-19 Support Payments shall be classified as a form of severance pay. South Carolina courts have interpreted severance pay as a form of payment for services previously rendered and, thus, not “wages”. Classification of COVID-19 Support Payments as non-wages will ensure that such payments do not reduce the unemployment benefits an otherwise eligible individual would be entitled to receive.
- A COVID-19 Support Payments Plan submitted to DEW must detail the anticipated length of the furlough, state the amount of the COVID-19 Support Payments, identify the names of the employees receiving the COVID-19 Support Payments, and include an attestation that the employer is not making the COVID-19 Support Payments as a form of remuneration for the employees’ performance of personal services during the furlough and that employees are not required to return or repay the COVID-19 Support Payments. Further, employers shall file employer-filed unemployment insurance claims, according to guidance provided by DEW, for each employee receiving COVID-19 Support Payments.
- The order also authorizes and instructs DEW to implement, interpret, and apply the foregoing directives, as necessary and appropriate, in a manner such that an employee will not be considered as having been overpaid unemployment insurance benefits solely because the employee received COVID-19 Support Payments pursuant to a COVID-19 Support Payments Plan.