HAMPTON ROADS, Va.— Coronavirus is not only affecting public health - it’s affecting livelihoods.
The Virginia Employment Commission is seeing increased activity of people filing unemployment claims since coronavirus closures began.
Local restaurants like Alkaline Ramen in Norfolk have already announced that they’re closing their doors to customers. The company announced in a statement that they’ll pay their employees partial wages - those are the types of workers who could possibly qualify for partial unemployment.
William Walton is the Unemployment Insurance Director with the VEC and says if a person’s employer cuts their hours, they may qualify for unemployment.
“If I was expected to work 30 hours and now I’m only working 15 because of the cutbacks, I can then file an unemployment claim,” says Walton.
The other way to be eligible for unemployment is if you’re not working at all due to no fault of your own.
“If you’ve been out of work for one full day, I would file a claim,” says Walton.
The maximum weekly benefit amount in Virginia is $378, so your gross weekly income has to be less than that to qualify.
"Claims shouldn’t be filed anticipation of being laid off. They should only be filed when they’re actually laid off or suffer a reduction in hours of their work," says Walton.
The fastest and easiest way to file a claim is online on the Virginia Employment Commission website, but there is also a toll-free number to call: 866-832-2363 Monday through Friday 8:30 a.m. – 5 p.m. Be prepared with information about your employer and dates of employment.
Right now, it’ll take at least three weeks to receive any payment, but Walton says that could change.
If you’re a server and your tips are down but your hours are still the same, you would not qualify under current unemployment guidelines - but that could also change.
If you have filed an unemployment insurance application (UI), you must then file a weekly claim for each week or you will not be paid. VEC recommends you do this on Sunday, Monday, or Tuesday of each week if you remain unemployed and want to be paid for the prior week.
You can complete and submit your weekly UI payment request by calling 1-800-897-5630. You can also find more information by visiting the website.
The VEC has created a Q&A on Claims Related to Coronavirus that will be updated if guidelines change in the future.