September 17, 2020
For Immediate Release: September 17, 2020
Claims for Unemployment Compensation, Week Ending September 12
AUGUSTA - For the week ending September 12, the Maine Department of Labor recorded about 1,400 initial claims filed for state unemployment insurance, and 1,000 initial claims filed for federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA). These claims represent about 2,300 individuals filing an initial claim.
About 29,800 weekly certifications, or continued claims, were filed last week for state unemployment, with another 18,200 weekly certifications filed under PUA. In addition, just over 7,900 weekly certifications were filed for the federal Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation program and 800 weekly certifications were filed for the state Extended Benefits program. Weekly certifications must be filed by claimants every week in order to continue to receive unemployment benefits.
Between March 15 and September 12, the Maine Department of Labor has paid out over $1.5 billion in federal and state unemployment benefits.
The Department has handled approximately 185,800 initial claims for the state unemployment program and 90,400 initial claims for the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program. There have been over 2.3 million weekly certifications filed.
Claims data is preliminary and subject to revision. Claims data can be found here: https://www.maine.gov/labor/cwri/ui.html
Lost Wage Assistance Program Update:
Maine was approved by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) the night of August 25 for Lost Wages Assistance (LWA) funding, which provides retroactive $300 to eligible Mainers for the weeks ending August 1-September 5. FEMA has announced that all states approved for LWA funding receive funds to cover those 6 weeks, and then the program ends.
The Department issued the first round of LWA payments, covering the weeks ending August 1, 8, and 15, the night of September 11. The second round of payments, covering weeks ending August 22, 29, and September 5, were issued last night (September 16).
The timing of when eligible people receive the funds depends on their individual financial institution's processing schedule. LWA payments are made separately from regular unemployment weekly benefits. Eligibility for LWA is determined on a week-by-week basis. Someone may be eligible for some of the covered weeks, but not others.
Those who need to answer an additional COVID-19 question in order to determine LWA eligibility had correspondence sent to them September 15 by email, if they have opted to receive correspondence by email. Those who did not opt for correspondence by email will receive the instructions in the mail. The instructions will also appear in their unemployment accounts correspondence tab within 2-3 business days. If someone had already received LWA payments for which they are eligible, and also received the correspondence, they should still complete the additional question to ensure they receive all payments for which they are eligible.
Individuals are eligible for Lost Wages Assistance if:
- they are eligible for unemployment benefits
- they are eligible for a weekly benefit of at least $100
- they are unemployed, or are partially unemployed, as a direct result of the COVID-19.
Answers to frequently asked questions about the LWA program are posted on the Department of Labors website: https://www.maine.gov/unemployment/.
The Maine Department of Labor continues its careful review of all claims as it investigates unemployment imposter fraud.
During the week ending September 5, the Department cancelled about 480 initial claims and 1 weekly certification that were determined to be fraudulent. Unemployment imposter fraud is when a person's Personally Identifiable Information, or PII, is stolen and used illegally to apply for unemployment benefits. Maine is one of many U.S. states working in close collaboration with state and federal law enforcement and regulatory agencies to investigate and prevent it.
The Department encourages anyone who believes that someone else has used their or their employees personal information to file a fraudulent unemployment application to notify the Department immediately using this form: https://www.maine.gov/unemployment/idtheft/.
Earned Paid Leave Law Update:
The Maine Department of Labor (MDOL) announced on September 14 that it has adopted the final Rules for Maines groundbreaking Earned Paid Leave Law, which ensures employees of businesses with more than 10 employees can earn up to 40 hours of annual paid leave starting in January 2021.
It is estimated that the vast majority of Maine workers will be able to accrue and use paid leave under the law, with some estimates totaling 85 percent. Maine is the first state to permit using this leave for reasons outside of illness, as long as employees give their employer reasonable notice.
Gov. Janet Mills signed the Earned Paid Leave Law in May 2019, after working with a diverse group of stakeholders to create a consensus to support Maine workers who lacked paid leave. It received strong bipartisan support in the Legislature and an endorsement from the Maine State Chamber of Commerce. MDOL was directed to lead the laws implementation.
The Earned Paid Leave Law applies to employers with more than 10 workers in Maine for 120 days or more in a calendar year, except for seasonal industries as defined in the statute. Employers covered by the law must provide employees with one hour of paid leave for every 40 hours they work, up to a maximum of 40 hours of paid leave per year.
The law, "An Act Authorizing Earned Employee Leave" (26 MRS 637) goes into effect on January 1, 2021. While MDOL itself was charged with adopting the Rules to implement the statute, the MDOLs Bureau of Labor Standards is charged with its enforcement.
MDOL held 10 public listening sessions last fall on the law prior to the formal rulemaking process. It also held a virtual public hearing and received written comments on the draft Rules, responses to which have been posted online at maine.gov/labor.
The Rules provide clarity to employers, workers, and others on how the Department intends to implement the statute. To find more information:
- Visit the website to see Frequently Asked Questions, responses to comments, and more information: https://www.maine.gov/labor/labor_laws/earnedpaidleave/
- Call the Department at 207-623-7900. TTY users call Maine relay 711.
- Virtually join informational briefings, the dates and times of which will be posted here: https://www.maine.gov/labor/labor_laws/earnedpaidleave/
- Updates on other outreach events will be posted on the Departments website, Facebook, and Twitter.
Individuals who are permanently separated from their employer must engage in work search activities each week in order to be eligible for benefits. In response to the circumstances caused by the pandemic, the Department expanded possible work search activities to include opportunities to enhance individual's marketability during these challenging economic times. Work search activities are:
- Attending a job fair/virtual job fair hosted by a CareerCenter
- Participating in CareerCenter virtual reemployment services
- Participating in a CareerCenter virtual workshop
- Applying for a job for which you are reasonably qualified
- Interviewing for a job for which you are reasonably qualified
- Contacting an employer to inquire as to whether the employer is hiring
- Participating in professional job-related education or skills development
- Participating in networking events related to a job or occupation for which you are reasonably qualified
More information and answers to frequently asked questions on the work search requirement can be found at: https://www.maine.gov/unemployment/faq/worksearch/