Man filling out unemployment benefits application.

Unemployment Compensation Benefits vs. Workers’ Compensation Benefits

With stay-at-home orders still largely in effect and the closure of all non-essential businesses, there has been a lot of confusion surrounding the eligibility of Unemployment Compensation (UC) and Workers’ Compensation (WC) due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Here’s what you need to know.

Pennsylvania employees who are unable to work due to the coronavirus may be eligible for either UC or WC benefits. UC is typically  limited to “W-2” employees who have been employed somewhere (as an employee) within the last 18 months. Contrastingly, “gig” workers and “1099” employees usually don’t qualify for UC. However, gig workers may still qualify for WC benefits. 

Unemployment Compensation

Employees may qualify for UC benefits if:

  • The employer has temporarily closed or has gone out of business due to COVID-19;
  • The employer has reduced the employee’s hours due to COVID-19;
  • The employee has been told not to work because his or her employer believes he or she might get or spread COVID-19; or
  • The employee has been told by a healthcare provider, medical professional, or public official to quarantine or self-isolate.

The best way to apply for unemployment compensation benefits is online. 

Whereas claimants are not usually eligible to receive benefits during their first week of unemployment (often referred to as the “waiting week,” this is temporarily not the case. Those individuals who are eligible for UC benefits are able to receive benefits for their first week of unemployment for the duration of the declared COVID-19 emergency. 

Also temporarily suspended are the work search and work registration requirements ordinarily necessary to maintain UC benefits. 

Workers’ Compensation

You may wonder how COVID-19 can lead to Workers’ Compensation. When an employee has work-related COVID-19, he or she may be eligible for WC benefits including payment of wage and medical bills..

Employees may qualify for WC if:

  • They notify their employer that they have suffered a “disease injury” claim;
  • They provide medical evidence demonstrating that he or she contracted COVID-19 at work.

When an employee applies for WC, his or her employer is required to accept or deny the claim within twenty one days from the date that the claim being reported. If an employer approves the claim, its insurance company will pay the employee for all COVID-19-related medical treatment. Additionally, the employee will receive benefits for lost wages. 

If the employer denies the claim, then the employee has the right to file a Petition with the Pennsylvania Bureau of Workers’ Compensation and pursue the matter through the courts.  However, before filing a petition, it’s in your best interest for the employee to consult with a workers compensation specialist.

Finally, It is important to note that the Workers Compensation insurance company will receive a credit for any Unemployment Compensation received by the injured worker.  

The Attorneys at Nikolaus & Hohenadel, LLP Can Help

The differences between unemployment compensation benefits and workers’ compensation benefits can often be quite confusing. Luckily, the Pennsylvania attorneys at Nikolaus & Hohenadel, LLP can help. We understand the impact that COVID-19 has had and continues to have on the lives of so many. That’s why we’re here to help you. To learn more, or to schedule a consultation, contact us today!