Hundreds of thousands of Nevadans could lose their jobs due to the business stoppage caused by the new coronavirus.
Some unemployment benefits have always been there for out-of-work people, while others are being added during the crisis to help ease the economic hardship.
UNLV Professor Ruben Garcia co-directs the William S. Boyd Law School’s Workplace Program. He told State of Nevada that if people are not sure if they qualify for unemployment they should still apply.
He said the general default rule is unemployment is open for people who have lost their job through no fault of their own and since the federal government and the state are changing requirements people who thought they weren't eligible might be.
For instance, Garcia said that people who are independent contractors - and therefore ineligible - may not fall into that category under the law.
“Factually, that may not be the case," he said, "That’s why state agencies like unemployment agencies and labor commission and other kinds of agencies have to determine whether that is a correct classification or a misclassification.”
Last week, the Nevada Department of Employment, Training and Rehabilitation said their offices were overwhelmed with people applying for unemployment and many people couldn't get through.
The agency said 93,036 applications were received last week, which is substantially more than the last record number of applications in January 2009, during the Great Recession, when 9,000 claims were filed.
“These are clearly unprecedented times. Those are unprecedented numbers," Garcia said, "The short answer is at some point the ability to file a claim should be available.”
DETR said those who tried to submit a claim but couldn't get through will not lose benefits. It set up a new online portal and added staff to address the backlog.
Garcia said, besides having patience, those waiting to apply for benefits should gather information about their employment like paystubs and other relevant documents.
He also advised people to stay in touch with other employees.
“As with all workplace issues, communication with fellow employees who are in the same situation is crucial,” he said.
Garcia said you should talk to colleagues about what they're facing in the process so you know what to expect.
Right now, the state has waived the work search requirement and waiting period requirements for unemployment. Although it is a federal program, the state administers it, which means there is a lot of variability between states.
Ruben Garcia, co-director, William S. Boyd Law School’s Workplace Program.
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