Missouri adds COVID-19 category for jobless claims

Missouri adds COVID-19 category for jobless claims

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Lines form outside computer stores as people prepare to work from home during coronavirus outbreak

Two men push their cart of electronics out of Micro Center while almost a dozen other people wait in line to enter the store the Brentwood computer store on Friday, March 20, 2020. On average, wait times to get in the store were about 20 minutes, and while inside, checkout lines had six-foot spaces between each person. Photo by Rachel Ellis. rellis@post-dispatch.com.

People in Missouri who have lost their jobs due to the coronavirus pandemic are getting some guidance on how to file for unemployment benefits.

The Department of Labor and Industrial Relations added a COVID-19 question and answer section to its website this week.

It tells workers they will be usually be eligible for unemployment benefits if an employer has shut down or laid workers off due to the pandemic. But if a person is being paid via sick leave, vacation or family medical leave pay, they cannot get unemployment benefits. They are still receiving pay while off work.

The state also said that workers who leave work to stay home to take care of children because of school or daycare closures generally won't qualify for unemployment benefits.

If someone had already exhausted their unemployment benefits for the years, there's no additional benefits due to the coronavirus.

Gov. Mike Parson on Wednesday issued an executive order allowing agencies to waive regulations and laws that interfere with the state's response. That includes the labor department.

Currently, Missouri limits unemployment benefits to 20 weeks and the maximum weekly check is $320 a week.

The state also has a one-week waiting period before a person can receive an unemployment check, and Democratic lawmakers want that rule waived.

State Rep. Kip Kendrick, D-Columbia, shared other detail about the COVID-19 changes, including that the state removed the job search requirement.

He also said that the state is expected to relax other requirements once it gets more guidance from the federal government.

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