STATEHOUSE (March 31, 2020) – Hendricks County legislators are encouraging Hoosier workers and small businesses impacted by the coronavirus pandemic to access recently expanded state and federal resources for help.
Under Indiana's temporary "stay-at-home" order, many businesses deemed not essential have laid off staff or cannot pay employees while they are shut down.
To help, State Rep. Jeff Thompson (R-Lizton) said Gov. Eric Holcomb expanded unemployment coverage to those impacted, including Hoosiers whose work hours were reduced, those under medical quarantine and employees who cannot continue to work because of lack of child care options.
"This public health emergency has altered daily life for residents in a variety of ways," Thompson said. "It's not just those suddenly finding themselves unemployed who are suffering. Many others are being furloughed or having to care for their children full-time while schools are closed instead of working. It's important that situations like those are covered too through unemployment insurance, while we seek to slow the spread of this virus."
The Indiana Department of Workforce Development said Hoosiers should file for unemployment insurance if their employment has been interrupted or ended due to COVID-19, and their claim will be evaluated. Individuals must apply for UI benefits online, using a computer or smart phone at Unemployment.IN.gov. For questions, the state asks Hoosiers to review the Frequently Asked Questions, the Claimant Handbook or the online video tutorials before calling the 1-800-891-6499 helpline, which continues to experience a high volume of calls.
According to State Rep. Greg Steuerwald (R-Avon), Indiana waived the one-week waiting period for payment of unemployment benefits, and it is retroactive to March 8, 2020. Qualified claimants can typically receive benefits for up to 26 weeks, but this has been extended by an additional 13 weeks.
"The state is working to streamline processes and get families the help they need," Steuerwald said. "As Hoosiers do their part to control the spread of this virus, it's important to expand resources and offer flexibility."
Due to the action of the federal government, unemployed workers who file and are approved will see an extra $600 per week for four months.
State Rep. Bob Behning (R-Indianapolis) said small businesses, small agricultural cooperatives and nonprofits can receive up to $2 million in low-interest loans through the U.S. Small Business Administration's Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program to help meet financial obligations and operating expenses, which could have been met had the disaster not occurred. The loans may be used to pay fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable and other bills that cannot be paid because of the disaster's impact. The loan interest rates for small businesses and nonprofits are 3.75% and 2.75%, respectively, with terms up to 30 years.
“Hoosier employees and employers are critical to our economy,” Behning said. “This financial relief will hopefully alleviate some of the pressure many are feeling right now. As our community works to adjust to a new normal created by this pandemic, it is important now more than ever that we support each other and weather this storm together.”
He said businesses' merit rate/tax rate will not be impacted if they lay off employees due to the coronavirus.