July 30th Unemployment Changes

Maine's Declaration of Emergency ended June 30. Federal programs (PUA, PEUC, FPUC) are not affected, and are still ending on Sept. 4, 2021. However, some pandemic aspects of unemployment insurance will be affected, beginning July 30:

  • The waiting week will no longer be waived. This means that when someone applies for unemployment, the first week in which they are eligible to receive a benefit payment would serve as their "waiting week," and they would not receive a benefit for that week. This does not reduce the total amount of benefits someone may receive.

  • COVID related reasons such as quarantine, self-isolating, or caring for a dependent family member will no longer count as eligible reasons to receive regular state unemployment insurance. However, if denied state UI, you may still be eligible for PUA.

  • For employers - the non-charging of employer experience rating for COVID-related claims will no longer be in place for new initial claims filed after this date.

Back to Work Program - Applications Due August 6

On June 14, Governor Mills announced the new "Back to Work" Program, which will provide employers a one-time $1,500 payment for eligible full-time workers and $750 for eligible part-time workers who start jobs between June 15 and July 25 to encourage unemployed Maine people to return to the workforce.

The updated eligibility qualifications for the program are now as follows:

For the $1,500 grant, full-time new hires must:

  • Have received unemployment benefits for the week ending May 29, 2021.
  • Have started one full-time job (at least 35 hours per week) in Maine between June 15 and July 25, 2021. Be employed for at least eight weeks, at an hourly wage of less than $25. Not receive unemployment benefits during their period of employment.

For the $750 grant, part-time new hires must:

  • Have received unemployment benefits for the week ending May 29, 2021.
  • Have started one part-time job (at least 20 hours per week) in Maine between June 15 and July 25, 2021.
  • Be employed for at least eight weeks, at an hourly wage of less than $25.
  • Not receive any unemployment benefits during their period of employment.

Once requirements are met, the employer will provide documentation and grant funds will be issued to the employer to be given to the employee. More information:

How to provide your Proof of Employment

The federal Continued Assistance for Unemployed Workers Act of 2020 requires that the Maine Department of Labor verify the identity of all new PUA applicants before the claim is processed. It is also a federal requirement that PUA recipients provide proof of employment.

For more information, please visit the PUA ID and Employment Verification web page.

How to Verify your Email Address

As part of our fraud protection measures, all unemployment claimants are now required to verify their email address. Instructions on how to do so can be found at the following:

Maine Department of Labor Partnering with ID.me to Help Protect Unemployment Claimants

You may be required to submit ID verification though ID.me. If so, a notification will be added to your ReEmployME account, and instructions for completion of the process would be found under Correspondences in your account, as well as sent via regular mail.

If You Filed Your Claim a Year Ago - New Benefit Year

COVID-19 has created the need for extended unemployment, and there are now a number of people who are coming to the end of their benefit year.

If you filed your unemployment claim a year ago, your benefit year may be expiring soon. A benefit year is the 52-week period following the date you filed your initial claim. For example, if you filed your claim in March 2020, your benefit year would end in March 2021 and a new one would need to be established if you are still eligible to collect benefits. The Department will need to review your claim to determine whether you qualify for regular unemployment benefits on this new benefit year, especially if you are currently collecting on one of the federal programs.

What do you need to know?

Federal and state law requires the Department to determine whether you are eligible for regular state unemployment benefits on a new benefit year. For some, a new benefit year will be automatically established. Others will receive a system prompt to file a new benefit if the prior one has expired. If you are receiving benefits through PUA or PEUC, the system will in most cases complete the eligibility review automatically. If you do not qualify for state unemployment, you will receive a denial letter for state unemployment benefits on the new benefit year and continue to receive benefits through the federal program until you have exhausted them or the program ends.

If you worked since you filed your claim last year, have out of state wages, Federal Civilian wages, Military wages, or have been on Workshare within the past year, your claim may require additional review to determine eligibility.

What are the next steps?

If the system prompts you to file a new benefit year, from your account, please navigate to "Unemployment Claim" and File Unemployment Claim to complete this process. We recommend you do so as soon as you receive the notification to avoid missing out on eligible claim weeks.

Make sure you continue to file your weekly claims for benefits, even if an eligibility review is pending. If otherwise eligible we will process all eligible pending weeks for payment once the review is completed.

Unemployment Insurance

The Bureau of Unemployment Compensation contributes to economic stability by providing temporary employer-funded benefits to eligible individuals while they seek re-employment. We operate an accessible, integrity-driven program in a timely and accurate manner.