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What Should I Do If I was Laid Off or Furloughed During the COVID-19 Pandemic?

April 9th, 2020

The Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has swept the nation and is causing businesses across the United States to suffer financially. The recent health orders and forced closures for non-essential businesses are putting pressure on employers and has affected employees in a negative way. Many companies are forced to cut costs through furloughs and layoffs. According to the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, an estimated 47 million Americans could lose their jobs because of COVID-19. This would cause the unemployment rate to spike about 25 percent, the highest it has been in decades.

Employees that are suffering the most are from the blue-collar sector, which includes transportation, food service, retail work, and those in the manufacturing field. If you have either been laid off or furloughed, you qualify for weekly unemployment benefits. The CARES Act, which was recently passed, has allowed for anyone to apply for unemployment benefits, including freelancers and the self-employed.


To claim unemployment benefits, you can make a claim online or over the phone. The amount of pay that you receive will be based on how much you previously earned and will replace about half of your prior income. The pay you receive will also depend on which state you live in, as every state has a different way of determining pay rates. Also, certain states require the claim maker to actively search for a job while receiving unemployment benefits.

The CARES Act will also provide a one-time payment of $1,200 to adults making up to $75,000 or $2,400 for married couples making less than $150,000 combined. To receive this income, your 2019 tax return must be filed, or the IRS will base your pay off your 2018 return.

Health Insurance

In regard to health insurance, if you have been furloughed, you will keep your current health insurance. If you have been laid off, your benefits will most likely end. Laid off employees may keep their past employer’s insurance plan for up to three years via COBRA; learn more here. For many people, the less inexpensive option is to receive insurance through the Affordable Care Act.

If you were laid off or furloughed, apply for unemployment benefits as soon as possible. Create a monthly budget for yourself and your family during this time and start looking for a new job for when companies start opening back up. If your unemployment is temporary, ensure that your company still has plans to reopen when quarantine is over.

Philadelphia Employment Lawyers at The Gold Law Firm P.C. Help Clients with All Types of Employment Matters

If you were laid off or furloughed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Philadelphia employment lawyers at The Gold Law Firm P.C. can help you receive the proper compensation you deserve. We know that filing for unemployment can be confusing and we are here to help every step of the way. Contact us online or call us at 215-569-1999 for a free case consultation. Located in Philadelphia and Pennsauken, New Jersey, we serve clients throughout southeastern Pennsylvania and South Jersey, including Wilkes-Barre, Scranton, northeast Philadelphia, Bucks County, Chester County, Delaware County, and Montgomery County.

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