Unemployment Compensation In A Pandemic: How Has It Changed In Texas?

The Unemployment Insurance system (UI) helps individuals who have lost their jobs, through no fault of their own, by replacing part of their wages while they remain out of work. This is a state system that is monitored by the U.S. Department of Labor. Under this system, created in 1935, the states provide most of the income by collecting taxes from employers, and the federal government pays only the administrative costs. The basic UI program provides up to 26 weeks of benefits, unless extended benefits of 13 or 20 weeks apply (EB). EB is paid in states that have higher unemployment rates, which does not need to be caused by a national recession.

In Texas, UI is administered by the Texas Workforce Commission’s (TWC) Wage and Hour Division. Recently enacted federal laws passed to provide monetary assistance during the pandemic are designed to give states significant flexibility to provide UI services to those affected by COVID-19 (the “Virus”). In Texas, the TWC has waived the one-week waiting period and the job search requirements during the pandemic as part of national disaster relief efforts. However, furloughed employees are ordinarily required to report back to work when called unless they can meet specific requirements described in detail below. Employees who do not meet those guidelines and who refuse to return to work when called back can lose their right to receive unemployment benefits.


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