Coronavirus unemployment benefits are available immediately to Arkansas workers who have lost their job, are sick or quarantined with coronavirus (COVID-19), have reduced work hours, are furloughed, or are unable to work because they are a caregiver for someone who is sick or quarantined with COVID-19.
An outbreak of respiratory illness caused by a new coronavirus (COVID-19) is affecting all 50 states in the United States. There is evidence of community spread in Arkansas at this time. All workers and employers should review their workplace health and safety procedures to help prevent exposure to the virus.
The Arkansas Division of Workforce Services Unemployment Insurance program provides a variety of support services to individuals affected by COVID-19 in Arkansas. For faster and more convenient access to those services, we encourage the use of our online options.
Unemployment Benefits for Quarantined or Sick Workers
If you cannot work because you are sick or have been exposed to COVID-19, you may be able to file an unemployment claim. If your claim is for exposure and you are not yet sick – you may need to have your exposure validated by a healthcare professional. Unemployment benefits provide short-term benefit payments to workers that are eligible, who have a complete or partial loss of wages due to a non-work-related illness, injury, or pregnancy. Benefit amounts are approximately 60-70 percent of wages and range from $50-$1,300 a week, depending on your income.
The Arkansas Governor’s executive order waives the usual one-week unpaid waiting period, so you can collect unemployment benefits for the first week you are out of work. If you are found to be eligible, the unemployment office processes and issues payments within a few weeks of receiving your claim.
Unemployment for Caregivers
If you cannot work because you are the primary caregiver for someone who is sick with COVID-19 or quarantined (certified by a medical professional), then you may be able to file a Paid Family Leave (PFL) claim. Paid Family Leave provides up to a total of six weeks of payments to workers that are eligible and have a full or partial loss of wage income because they need time off from work to care for a seriously ill family member.
Paid Family Leave benefit amounts are approximately 60-70 percent of wages (depending on your total income) and can range from $50-$1,300 per week. If you are eligible for this, the unemployment agency processes and issues payments within a few weeks of receiving your claim.
Unemployment Due to School Closures
If your child’s school is closed because of the coronavirus, and you have to miss work to take care of them, you may be able to collect for unemployment benefits. Eligibility must be determined – and you will only be considered eligible if you have no options for the care of your child or children and if you are unable to continue working your normal work hours from home or remotely.
Unemployment for Reduced Work Hours
If your employer has reduced the number of hours you can work or shut down completely due to COVID-19, you may be able to file an unemployment claim. Arkansas unemployment insurance provides benefit payments for partial wage replacement to workers that have lost their job or have had their hours of work reduced, through no fault of their own.
Workers who are unemployed temporarily because of COVID-19 and are expected to return to work with their employer within a few weeks, or some other defined short period of time, are not required to actively seek work each week. However, they must remain available and able and ready to work, or return to work, during their unemployment for each week that benefits are claimed and must meet all other eligibility criteria. Individuals who meet eligibility requirements can receive benefits that range from $40-$450 per week.
Unemployment for Furloughed Workers
If you have been furloughed from your job due to the corona virus (COVID-19), you may be able to file an unemployment claim and collected unemployment benefits until you return to work.
Furloughed workers are not required to actively seek work each week, but they must remain available and able and ready to work, or return to work, during their unemployment for each week that benefits are claimed and must meet all other eligibility criteria. Furloughed workers who meet eligibility requirements can receive benefits that range from $40-$450 per week.
The Governor’s Executive Order waives the one-week unpaid waiting period, so you can collect UI benefits for the first week you are out of work. If you are eligible, the EDD processes and issues payments within a few weeks of receiving a claim.
Unemployment Benefits for Self-Employed
The available unemployment benefits are and insurance programs. In order for an individual to be eligible, either you or an employer had to make contributions in the past 5 to 18 months. It is possible that if you are self-employed that you did not make unemployment insurance payments and are therefore ineligible for unemployment benefits. It is also possible that these contributions were made at a prior job, or if you were misclassified as an independent contractor instead of an employee. If you are self-employed and unsure of your eligibility for coronavirus unemployment, you are encouraged to apply for the unemployment benefit program that is most appropriate for your specific situation.
Potential Closure or Layoffs
Employers that are planning a closure or layoffs as a result of the coronavirus can get assistance through the special employer programs. These special employer program teams will meet with you to discuss your needs, help you avoid potential layoffs, and provide immediate services on-site to assist workers that are facing imminent job losses.
Employers that are experiencing difficulties as a result of COVID-19 may be able to request up to a 60-day extension of time to file their state payroll reports and/or deposit state payroll taxes without penalty or interest. A written request for extension must be received within 60 days from the original delinquent date of the payment or return.