COVID-19 Related Business Layoffs, Closures, and Unemployment Insurance Benefits

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The CARES Act was signed into law on March 27, 2020, and will expand unemployment insurance benefits in several ways. We are working hard to implement these changes as quickly as we are able as we get ongoing needed guidance from the U.S. Department of Labor. We will provide more information about these programs, including how to apply, as the information becomes available.

If you have not already filed an initial claim application for unemployment insurance benefits, and believe you might be eligible for regular unemployment insurance benefits, please file a claim online. If you have not filed a claim for benefits, and know you cannot receive regular unemployment insurance but want benefits for self-employed workers and independent contractors under the new federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program, please check this page for updates on how to apply once those benefits become available. This will include information about how to get retroactive benefits under this program if you are eligible to receive them.

If you have already filed a claim for benefits, make sure to claim each week you want to request benefits.

This video answers some of the more commonly asked questions we are receiving around UI Benefits related to COVID-19

CARES Act

The CARES act was signed into law on March 27, 2020 and will expand Unemployment Insurance benefits. We are working to incorporate these new changes into our resource guides, and will issue a news release and additional online announcements about pandemic unemployment assistance and unemployment benefit extensions as we receive guidance from the U.S. Department of Labor.

If you have not already filed an initial claim application, please do so. If you have filed, make sure you claim each week you want to request benefits. We will let you know your options under the federal legislation as soon as possible.

In the near future, we will provide guidance to our customers on the:

 Workers

The Oregon Employment Department provides Unemployment Insurance (UI) benefits to most workers who are out of work through no fault of their own. To get benefits, workers must meet some requirements. In general, to receive UI benefits for a week, you must be able to work, be available for work, and look for work you can do.

UI benefits may be available to those who are on a temporary layoff. These benefits occur for claimants whose employer stops operation for a short period of time, such as cleaning following a coronavirus exposure or by government requirement. Workers can get UI benefits, and do not need to seek work with other employers. You must be able to work, stay in contact with your employer, and be available to work when called back.

If your employer expects to re-open in the future, you do not actively have to look for another job to receive benefits. To get benefits, you must:

  • be able to work;
  • stay in contact with your employer; and
  • be available to work when your employer calls you back to work.

Note that when filing an online claim, our systems require you to enter your work search. You can bypass this by marking the temporary layoff option.

If you are not still in contact with your employer, you are currently considered to be actively seeking work if you are doing what you can to be prepared to return to new work or find new employment.

  • Note that when filing an online claim, our systems require you to enter your work search. You can bypass this by marking the temporary layoff option.
  • During your temporary layoff period, please keep a written work search log in case it is requested in the future. 

During your temporary layoff period, please keep a written work search log in case it is requested in the future. 


 Yes. A person will be considered available to work if they are:

  • Quarantined by their health care provider, or by advice issued by public health officials to self-quarantine due to possible risk of exposure to, or spread of, the novel coronavirus, but they are not sick;
  • Home sick because of the novel coronavirus or a condition with similar flu like symptoms and they have not turned down an offer of work since they began being at home due to the sickness; or
  • Hospitalized, or in other institutionalized care, due to the novel coronavirus, but for less than half of the week, and they did not turn down an offer to work that week.
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Generally, you will not be eligible for benefits if your employer is paying you to remain away from the site or as stand-by pay.

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You may be eligible for benefits. You can file a claim, and the Employment Department will gather information from you and your employer to see if benefits would apply.

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Generally you will not be eligible for unemployment benefits. You can file an initial claim to determine the possibility of receiving benefits.

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If you are getting vacation or other leave pay while your employer is closed, you generally are not able to also receive unemployment insurance benefits.

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The Oregon Bureau of Labor and Industries issues guidance related to Oregon’s sick time and other leave time laws.

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Contact the Workers' Compensation Division of the Department of Consumer and Business Services for information on filing a workers' compensation claim related to coronavirus. They can also be contacted at 800-452-0288 or workcomp.questions@oregon.gov.​

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​You may be eligible for unemployment benefits if you quit your job. You can file still an initial claim to find out if you can receive benefits. ​

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Generally, you will be eligible for unemployment benefits. To find out if you are eligible, file an initial claim. We will gather information from you and your employer about your circumstances to determine your eligibility.​

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​Under the new federal CARES Act, Self-employed individuals are now eligible for benefits and should file an application for a benefits claim. The Employment Department is currently reviewing all the new federal legislation and will provide more information once we receive the required U.S. Department of Labor guidance so that we can carry out these changes as quickly as possible.

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Unemployment benefits may be available to school staff who are out of work due to the closure and are not actively seeking work with other employers. You must be able to work, stay in contact with your employer during the temporary layoff, and be available to work when called back. If your spring break is during the closure other provisions may apply.​

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Generally, you will not be eligible for benefits during the normal spring break period if you are expected to return to your job after the break. You may be eligible and can file a claim for other weeks during the closure that are not part of your normal spring break.​

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Whether you are paid by the Department of Human Services, another agency, or an independent contractor, you can file a claim for unemployment benefits. The Employment Department will review each case and determine if you can receive benefits based on current law and the circumstances of the COVID-19 coronavirus.​

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The Employment Department is aware of the federal legislation to help people impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. We are currently reviewing all the new federal legislation so that we may carry out these changes as quickly as possible. If you have not already filed an initial claim application please do so. If you have, make sure you claim each week you want to request benefits. We will let you know your options under the federal legislation as soon as possible.

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We are clearing out the lapsed return to work dates on claims as our employees process them. Please continue to file a claim each week you are out of work until your employer resumes operations.

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Some people indicated they weren’t looking for work with other employers when filing initial claims. Under our agency’s temporary rules, as long as you stay in contact with your current employer and return to work when they resume operations, you do not need to actively seek work at other employers. We have made an automatic fix for these cases, and you should receive benefits. Please continue to file a claim each week you are out of work until your employer resumes operations.

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 Job Seekers

The Oregon Employment Department provides Unemployment Insurance (UI) benefits to most workers who are out of work through no fault of their own. To get benefits, workers must meet some requirements. In general, to receive UI benefits for a week, you must be able to work, be available for work, and look for work you can do.

A person will be considered “actively seeking work” if they are willing to look for work when state and local emergency declarations related to the coronavirus expire or otherwise are no longer in effect.  

Yes. A person will be considered “available to work” if they normally work less than full-time and are only available for less than full-time work.

If you are home sick because you are sick with COVID-19 or other flu like symptoms that prevent you from going into work, you are considered able to work.

If you are quarantined, but not sick, you are considered able to work.

If you are hospitalized because you are sick with COVID-19, your claim will need to be reviewed determine the possibility of receiving benefits.​


Please call your WorkSource Oregon center to ask about alternative options for completing your appointments. ​


Generally yes, you would be considered available for work. If you have turned down work with a new employer, that could affect your benefit eligibility.

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At this time, unemployment benefit extensions are not available.

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If at all possible we encourage you to go online to file a new claim or restart your existing claim. With the current climate our phone lines are busier than usual, we will check your situation and go back to the prior week when appropriate. ​

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Yes; if you are home because you are caring for a family member due to the effects of COVID-19, you are considered available for work and will want to report that on your weekly claim. If you are home solely because you lack childcare for your child or children due to school or daycare closure, you are considered available for work and will want to indicate that on your weekly claim.​

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If you've already exhausted your benefits from a claim that expired on or after July 6, 2019:

  • Continue to file your weekly claim.
  • You will be paid retroactively after our systems are updated for the new federal legislation.
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   WorkSource Oregon Resource Guide

 Employers

This program seeks to prevent layoffs. Employers voluntarily make an agreement with the Oregon Employment Department to temporarily reduce employee hours, and workers with reduced hours are eligible for partial unemployment

The CARES Act provides federal funding to cover half of the costs of reimbursable benefits and provides additional flexibility for these entities to pay the other half over time. Workers for these entities are eligible for the weekly $600 Pandemic Unemployment Compensation.

UI benefits may be available to those who are on a temporary layoff. These benefits occur for claimants whose employer stops operation for a short period of time, such as cleaning following a coronavirus exposure or by government requirement. Workers can get UI benefits, and do not need to seek work with other employers. They must be able to work, stay in contact with you as their employer, and be available to work when you call them back.​


One option to consider is whether you may be able to use Oregon's Work Share program. It helps employers prevent layoffs by reducing the schedules of workers, instead of laying them off, while benefits help to offset employees' lost wages. ​


The Higher Education Coordinating Commission has rapid response services to plan for job transitions needed when a business closure or mass layoff occurs, including cases of natural and other disasters. Local Rapid Response teams coordinate with employer, worker representative, Trade Act and Labor.  ​

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Yes, anyone can file for Unemployment Insurance benefits. Currently excluded LLC members may elect coverage. Additional information is available from our Unemployment Insurance Tax division.​

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Yes, anyone can file for unemployment benefits. In this case, LLC members could receive benefits if they meet all eligibility requirements.​

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You will be charged proportionately for any weeks your employees receive unemployment insurance benefits. ​

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Press Releases: 




 Situation in the U.S. and Globally

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) leads the U.S. response. The World Health Organization (WHO) guides the global response.

 Information from CDC   Information from WHO

For general information on COVID-19 in Oregon, call 211. If you are having a medical emergency, call 911.

 Contact Us

 Resources for the Community


Social Distancing

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Spread facts, not fear.

Oregon is seeing an increase in incidents of discrimination and harassment related to the COVID-19 virus. It is important that all people, businesses, and other organizations act on facts, not bias or xenophobia. Health officials confirm there are no links between COVID-19 infection and a person’s race, color, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, ability, or national origin. COVID-19 can infect anyone who is exposed to it, and anyone can spread COVID-19. 

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In consideration of staffing challenges and health concerns due to COVID-19, Governor Kate Brown announced a statewide closure of Oregon K-12 schools from Monday, March 16 through Tuesday, April 28.

OHA knows we are asking a lot of Oregonians in order to protect those who are particularly vulnerable to this virus, and there is a lot of fear and anxiety in our communities. Educators are the heart of our schools, which in turn are the heart of our communities. In the wake of COVID-19’s arrival in Oregon, our schools are facing operational and business challenges.

We stand with the governor and our education partners as they make difficult decisions in response to these operational challenges in their school communities.

Resources from Oregon Department of Education

Child Care Resources from Early Learning Division

In partnership with OHA, the Early Learning Division (ELD) has created new tools for addressing concerns in child care around COVID-19.

Resources from Oregon Higher Education





Updated on April 7th, 2020 02:40PM