Summary of WI Act 185 – COVID-19 Relief Package

On Friday April 15, 2020, Governor Evers signed into law Act 185, a comprehensive COVID-19 relief package. Key provisions for employers include the following:

  • Waiver of 1-week waiting period for unemployment insurance (UI) benefits: One week waiting period for UI benefits will not apply with respect to benefit years that begin after March 12, 2020 and before February 7, 2021. (Section 38: 108.04). The federal government will provide funding for this benefit.
    • Recall that, under the CARES Act, the federal government expanded the maximum UI benefits period from 26 weeks to 39 weeks and provided an additional $600/week in UI benefits. For a good summary, see https://dwd.wisconsin.gov/uiben/caresact/.
  • COVID-Related UI claims charged to WI’s balancing account, not employer’s account: The Department of Workforce Development shall, when processing initial claims for UI benefits, determine whether a claim is related to the public health emergency declared on March 12, 2020 by Executive Order 72. If a claim is so related, the benefits shall be charged to the fund’s balancing account, rather than to the employer’s own account. (Section 50: 108.07). That state’s share of any benefits paid on a public health emergency-related claim shall also be charged to the fund’s balancing account, rather than the employer’s account. (Section 51: 108.14). This means that COVID-related claims will not adversely affect an employer’s UI tax rate.
  • Temporary removal of requirement to provide copy of employee’s personnel file: During public health emergency, employer is not required to provide copy of personnel records within 7 working days after request; nor is employer required to provide opportunity for inspection of personnel records. (Section 35: 103.13 (2m))
  • Presumption of Workers Compensation injury for first responders contracting COVID-19: Injury to first responder found to be caused by COVID-19 will presumed to be caused by the person’s employment for purposes of workers’ compensation benefits (can be rebutted by specific evidence that injury was caused by exposure outside of work). (Section 33: 102.03).
  • WEDC to Develop Plan to Support Major Industries: No later than June 30, 2020, the WEDC shall submit to the legislature and governor a report that includes a plan for providing support to the major industries in the state that have been adversely affected by COVID-19 public health emergency, including tourism, manufacturing, agriculture, forest products, construction, retail and services. (Section 105: (26m))

The legal and HR team at Lake Effect is closely monitoring the impact of COVID-19 on the workplace and will continue to provide our clients with updates as they are available. Check out our COVID-19 resource page for all of our pandemic-related legal updates and HR best practices. The attorneys and HR professionals at Lake Effect HR & Law are ready and willing to help. Contact us at info@le-hrlaw.com or 1-844-333-5253.

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