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Can New York Employees Receive Federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance If They are Permitted to Work from Home but Need to Care for Children Instead?

The COVID-19 pandemic has presented many challenges for individuals nationwide– this is especially true for workers lucky enough to still be employed but dealing with children that are not in school and cannot go to outside childcare. In some circumstances, workers may be presented the opportunity to work remotely but due to a working spouse and the needs of their children are unable to continue working even at home. This can create anxiety about whether these individuals qualify for federal pandemic unemployment insurance (PUA). The federal government has addressed this situation generally, and in some cases New York workers may qualify for these important financial benefits. 

CARES Act Self-Certification

Under Section 2102(a)(3)(ii)(I)(dd) of the federal CARES Act, an individual that is a child’s primary caregiver may qualify for PUA benefits if they can self-certify a need for their child to be in school in order to permit them to work. The child must be staying home as a direct result of a coronavirus-related school closure. 

Who Is a Primary Caregiver Under the CARES Act?

Primary caregivers are defined as individual workers whose need to care for a child makes it impossible to perform usual work duties from home because of the level of constant attention the child requires. This means it’s likely an individual wouldn’t qualify for PUA benefits if they can still work remotely because they have an older child at home who doesn’t require the constant attention as a small child.

What Happens When the School Year Ends?

Unfortunately, the PUA benefits under the CARES Act only extend to children home due to a forced school closure resulting from COVID-19. This means that once the date passes when a school year should originally have ended, a primary caregiver won’t qualify for PUA unless they can show other circumstances which qualify them to receive these benefits – they are expected instead to rely on their usual summer childcare arrangements. For example, they may be able to qualify if their usual summer childcare facility has been forced to closed because of COVID-19. 

New York Employment Lawyer

During the coronavirus pandemic, New York employees are not only facing the stress of avoiding infection and continuing to make ends meet, they are also dealing with the challenge of balancing childcare when schools and daycares are shut to prevent virus spread. To learn more about whether you may qualify for financial assistance as a direct result of the childcare needs you face, contact the experienced employment lawyers at MOWK Law with your questions. We can evaluate your unique situation, provide guidance, and work to help you secure the most financial assistance possible to help you deal with these challenging times and make ends meet. Contact us today with your questions and see how we can improve your situation.