Georgia Labor Commissioner Mark Butler introduced an emergency unemployment benefit regime on March 23rd, 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic crisis. The emergency rule requires employers in Georgia to file partial claims online on behalf of their employees for each week that an employee (full-time or part-time) works due to a less than their regular full-time or part-time schedule, partially or completely closing the company due to the COVID -19-Public health emergency. Employers who fail to make partial claims under this Emergency Rule are liable to the Georgia Department of Labor (DOL) for the full amount of benefits paid to the employee. The Emergency Rule also waives Georgia DOL’s job search for any claims filed on or after March 14, 2020. This emergency rule will last for 120 days (through July 14, 2020) or until the Georgia DOL adopts a subsequent rule, whichever comes first.

The Georgia DOL has also provided the following information for filing partial claims:

  • An employer must submit a partial application for each wage period. A week of partial unemployment consists of a week of wages set by the employer. Once a payment period has been set, it should stay the same.

  • Be sure to include the employee’s name, social security number, and date of birth. They must be consistent with the Social Security Agency records.

  • There must be seven days between the end dates of the payment week.

  • Do not submit claims until after the weekend date of the claim. The Georgia DOL cannot accept claims submitted prior to the claim weekend date.

  • Report any vacation pay, vacation pay, and / or income during the week it was earned, not the week it was paid to the employee.

  • Report to the Georgia DOL any additional income employees receive, except for social security benefits, jury service income, and weekend military service payments.

In general, an employer must file partial applications for employees temporarily laid off due to the COVID-19 public health crisis, but not for employees who:

  • are on a scheduled / customary vacation, a scheduled / customary plant shutdown or a scheduled / customary plant closure;

  • are employed by a temporary employment agency and are currently working at the employer’s place of business;

  • have been employed in another country in the past 18 months;

  • are 1099 employees;

  • are voluntarily unemployed, e.g. given notice, applied for leave of absence, self-quarantine etc .;

  • were permanently separated from the company; or

  • have been employed by the federal government or have been in active military service in the past 18 months.

Employers need the following information for each employee:

Report the gross wage as earnings – the wages before deduction – for each work that the employee has done in the week for which the employer applies. Do NOT report any vacation pay, vacation pay, and / or income during the week it was earned, NOT the week it was paid to the employee. Report to GDOL any additional income employees receive, with the exception of social security benefits, jury income, and weekend military reserve service payments.

All claims (in part or otherwise) must be submitted online as the Georgia DOL is closing its career centers to the public on Wednesday March 18, 2020. Unemployment benefit is paid weekly. All weekly earnings over $ 50 will be deducted from the benefit payment, dollar for dollar. Except as amended by the Emergency Rule, all other Georgia Department of Labor rules and requirements remain in effect.

It is important that employers submit the Georgia DOL Form 800 (Separation Notice) for any permanent (non-temporary) individual separation and the Georgia DOL Form 402 (Mass Separation Notice) for any permanent (non-temporary) mass separation (i.e. 25 or more employees who on the same day for the same reason). The Georgia DOL has also issued an employer-submitted (partial) Clams Desk-Aid.

© 2021, Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, PC, all rights reserved.National Law Review, Volume X, Number 83