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March 17, 2020

Philly-area workers affected by coronavirus may be eligible for financial relief

Pennsylvania offering unemployment benefits; New Jersey providing sick leave benefits

Unemployment Coronavirus
Coronavirus unemployment benefits New Jersey Pennsylvania Kate Frese/for PhillyVoice

The Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry is offering unemployment and workers' compensation benefits to full-time and part-time workers who experience job loss due to the coronavirus pandemic. New Jersey is providing benefits through its paid sick leave law. Above, Reading Terminal Market in Philadelphia.

Many workers are being left without an income as the coronavirus pandemic forces the temporary closure of restaurants, bars and other non-essential businesses across the Philadelphia region. 

In Pennsylvania, employees affected by these closures can expect a bit of financial relief.

The Department of Labor and Industry is offering unemployment and workers' compensation benefits to all full-time and part-time workers who experience loss, including temporary loss, of their job due to COVID-19.

"The best option is for employers to offer their employees paid time off," Secretary of Labor and Industry Jerry Oleksiak said in a statement. "If leave is not available and your job has been impacted by this new virus, you may be eligible for benefits either through unemployment or workers' compensation. If you work in a job or industry that likely will be affected, prepare now by knowing what you need and how to file so your application can be processed quickly."

Are you eligible? 

Workers may be eligible for unemployment compensation if their employer temporarily closed or went out of business, or if their hours were reduced, according to the Department of Labor. They also may be eligible if they needed to quarantine or self-isolate, or if their employer instructed them to avoid work due to fear that they could spread the virus. 

For full-time employees, unemployment benefits cover 50% of their weekly gross income. 

Additionally, anyone who was exposed to COVID-19 at their job may be eligible for worker's compensation. 

Anyone who needs to file for unemployment or workers' compensation benefits in Pennsylvania can visit the department's website for filing instructions.

What about New Jersey? 

New Jersey also is providing financial relief through the state's earned sick leave law — which covers public health emergencies. Residents are eligible if the person's workplace or their child's school or daycare closed due to the pandemic. They also are eligible if a quarantine is recommended by health officials or if they need to take care of themselves or a family member.

These benefits are applicable to full-time, part-time, temporary and seasonal workers. Employees can earn up to 40 hours of sick leave a year — or 1 hour of sick leave for every 30 hours worked. 

Any New Jersey workers needing to file for ick leave should contact their employer. 

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