March 18, 2020
WEAC Region 3 represents public education employees in a large territory stretching from Florence to Port Washington,
and from Menominee to Washington Island.
COVID-19 School Closures and Unemployment FAQs
School district employees may be eligible for unemployment benefits resulting from COVID-19 related closures. Governor Evers today issued an order to modify work search requirements for those affected by COVID-19. The Governor has also asked the Legislature to repeal a one-week waiting period for laid off workers. If you have questions that are not addressed below, please contact the Region 3 office – region3@weac.org , 920-496-2440.

In summary:
  • If you are available for work, but your district does not have work for you to perform, and you are not getting paid, you should apply for unemployment benefits. The application process is completed online using this link: Unemployment Benefits for Claimants
  • If you are receiving your regular pay from the district, you are NOT eligible for unemployment. 
  • If you have signed an agreement with the district to receive an advance on your regular payroll, you are NOT eligible for unemployment.
  • An agreement with the District to receive an advance on your regular payroll also should entitle you to continue your health insurance benefit as is, with your employer continuing to pay its share of the health insurance premium.
  • If you are working reduced hours, you may be eligible for partial unemployment. 
The WI Department of Workforce Development (DWD) has posted COVID-19 FAQs on its website that address questions related to eligibility and receipt of unemployment benefits: Unemployment COVID-19 Public Information .  Here are DWDs responses to FAQs of particular interest to school district employees:
 
  • Will workers qualify for unemployment benefits if the coronavirus (COVID-19) causes an employer to shut down operations?
  • Wisconsin unemployment benefits are available to individuals who are unemployed through no fault of their own. If an employer must shut down operations and no work is available, individuals may be eligible for unemployment benefits if they meet the monetary criteria and the weekly eligibility criteria.
 
  • What happens if the school I work at shuts down for the coronavirus. Will I be eligible?
  • If this closure is not during a customary break period, or extends longer than the customary break period, individuals may be eligible for unemployment benefits if they meet the monetary and weekly eligibility criteria.
 
  • If an employee imposes self-quarantine because of the coronavirus, will they be eligible for unemployment benefits?
  • In most cases, no. Unemployment benefits are available to individuals who are totally or partially unemployed due to no fault of their own. In this example, the individual—not the employer—is choosing not to work and, therefore, would be ineligible. However, the facts of each circumstance are important. If the employer allowed this individual to telework, they would not qualify for benefits because they would not be unemployed. If the employer required the individual to stay home but did not offer telework, the individual might be eligible for benefits if they met the monetary and weekly eligibility criteria.
 
  • If an employee is in mandatory quarantine because of suspicion of having the coronavirus, will they be eligible for unemployment benefits?
  • If the employer has instructed the individual to return to work after the quarantine is over and the employee intends to return to the work after the quarantine ends, that may be a temporary layoff for which the employee may be eligible for benefits. However, if it is unclear if the employee will return to that employer after the quarantine, the employee might meet the initial eligibility criteria but not the ongoing federal eligibility criteria, which require them to be able to work, available for work, and actively seeking suitable work.
 
  • If an employee is ill because of the coronavirus and unable to work, will they be eligible for unemployment benefits?
  • No. The federal requirements mandate that claimants be able to work, available for work, and actively seeking suitable work. If someone is so ill that they are unable to work, they would not meet these criteria.

Because the duration of the public health emergency is unknown, an additional question many may have is -- will hourly employees be eligible for unemployment benefits over the summer if there is no known end date to the closure?

  • Not if the employer provides reasonable assurance that they will have work when the closure ends. School year employees are not eligible for unemployment insurance during the break between academic years if they are expected to resume work when school resumes. If the closure continues into the fall, the employee can resume the unemployment insurance on the first day of the school year.


Be sure to email or call the Region 3 office with questions/concerns.
We are working during the school closures!

800-472-5582