(WFRV) – The Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development (DWD) announced the launch of an expansion of the federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program (PUA).
According to officials, in Feb. 2021 the U.S. Department of Labor expanded eligibility for the program to include three new COVID-related reasons for which a person can qualify. The DWD is reportedly mailing notices to nearly 28,000 people who were initially denied PUA benefits telling them they can re-apply.
Up to 79 weeks of back payments could be given, depending on when someone was first affected by the pandemic.
“This expansion by the Biden administration recognizes that people should not have to choose between paying their bills and keeping their families safe. We know thousands of Wisconsinites, many of whom have pre-existing conditions, did not feel safe returning to work as the pandemic swept across our state if their employers chose not to enforce safety precautions,” says DWD Secretary-designee Amy Pechacek.
The new PUA expansion includes:
- Someone who was denied continued unemployment benefits because they did not return to work or accept an offer of work at a worksite that was out of compliance with local, state, or national health and safety standards directly related to COVID-19. Such standards include those related to face mask-wearing, physical distancing measures, or access to personal protective equipment consistent with public health guidelines.
- Someone who provides services to an educational institution or educational service agency and is unemployed or partially unemployed because of volatility in their work schedule that is directly caused by the COVID-19 public health emergency. This includes changes in schedules and partial closures.
- Someone whose hours have been reduced or who was laid off as a direct result of the COVID-19 public health emergency. Such an example may be a server at a restaurant who was laid off for eight weeks while the restaurant was closed for in-person dining but remained open for carry-out and delivery service.
Those who applied for PUA by Dec. 27 can backdate their applications to whenever they were first affected by the pandemic.
More information can be found on Wisconsin’s DWD website.