COVID-19 Information for Employers

Below you’ll find information and frequently asked questions for employers related to COVID-19 and unemployment insurance. This page will be updated as more information becomes available.

Employers: How to Report Refusal of a Job Offer 

Claimants who refuse a suitable offer of work are typically ineligible to receive unemployment benefits, unless it is determined that the claimant has good cause to refuse to return to work. 

Employers may report to the Division of Employment Security that an individual has refused an offer of work through the Refusal of Job Offer link on the Claims Services menu of their DES online account. The employer will complete a fact-finding questionnaire to provide information about the company, the individual who received the offer and the type of work that was offered.

DES will review information provided by the employer and the claimant to determine whether the claimant may continue receiving unemployment benefits. Both parties will be notified of the decision and have the right to appeal if they disagree with it. 

For Employers: How to Report Refusal of a Job Offer

Employer Base Tax Rate Reduced

Under N.C. Senate Bill 114, the employer base contribution rate to the Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund for 2021 has been reduced from 2.4% to 1.9%. The base contribution rate is one of the factors used to calculate an employer’s unemployment insurance tax rate for the year.

This may result in an unemployment insurance tax rate reduction for active, experience-rated employers. 

  • Employers who are affected by this change will receive a Revised 2021 Tax Rate Notice from the Division of Employment Security (DES) by mail. Employers should take this opportunity to verify that the mailing address on their DES account is accurate to ensure prompt delivery of the notice. 
  • Employers whose tax rate for 2021 is already at the minimum rate allowed by law (0.06%) will not be affected by this change. 
  • Employers whose tax rate for 2021 is already at the maximum rate allowed by law (5.76%) may or may not receive a rate reduction, depending on individual recalculation results. 
  • Employers who have the standard new employer rate of 1.00% are not affected by this change, as they are not yet experience rated.

Benefits Charging for Reimbursable Employers  

In accordance with Executive Order No. 118, the Division of Employment Security is not charging employers’ accounts for benefits that have been paid to individuals for reasons related to COVID-19. 

Employers recently received a list of charges to their account showing all unemployment insurance benefits paid during the second quarter of 2020. 

This is not a bill, and employers are not required to submit payment with regards to these charges. It is generated for reporting purposes for the state to seek federal reimbursement for the charges. Employers will receive a reimbursement statement in November reflecting all credits due to their account. 

Employers: Paycheck Protection Program

Employers who received a Paycheck Protection Program loan should use the following Earnings Report Form to report to the Division of Employment Security payments they made to employees under the program.

Employer Earnings Report Form 

Employer Earnings Report Form Additional Page

Online Account Help for Employers

Steps to create an online account to manage tax and unemployment information, assistance with signing into your online account and more.

Online Account Help

Benefits Charging for Employers

In accordance with Governor Cooper's Executive Order No. 118, the Department of Commerce Division of Employment Security has been directed not to charge employers' accounts for benefits paid to individuals for reasons related to COVID-19.

Employers responding to requests for separation information should indicate that the separation was due to COVID-19. If the separation reason on a claim is not due to COVID-19, the employer may be charged.

More Information about Benefits Charging for Employers

Support Payments

Some employers have indicated a desire to offset the financial impacts of furloughs by making voluntary COVID-19-related support payments (“COVID-19 Support Payments”) to employees who may also receive unemployment insurance benefits. Governor Roy Cooper’s Executive Order 134 clears the way for employers who choose to take advantage of this voluntary option to make these COVID-19 Support Payments without such payments impairing their employees’ unemployment insurance benefits.

Guidance for Issuing COVID-19 Support Payments

Frequently Asked Questions

Will I receive relief of benefit charges for claims related to COVID-19?

Will I receive relief of benefit charges for claims related to COVID-19?

Yes. The Department of Commerce Division of Employment Security has been directed to not allocate charges to employers’ accounts for individuals who are paid benefits for reasons related to COVID-19. Employers responding to requests for separation information should indicate that the separation was due to COVID-19. More Information about Benefits Charging for Employers.

Will a business owner who is also paid a salary be eligible for unemployment insurance?

Will a business owner who is also paid a salary be eligible for unemployment insurance?

A business owner required to pay unemployment insurance taxes for him/herself may be eligible.

Are independent contractors eligible?

Are independent contractors eligible?

Independent contractors and self-employed workers are not typically eligible for unemployment insurance benefits. However, these individuals may qualify for federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance available as a result of COVID-19. 

Can my employees file a claim due to COVID-19?

Can my employees file a claim due to COVID-19?

Individuals who have been impacted by COVID-19 (lay off or reduction in hours) may be eligible for unemployment insurance benefits. The fastest most efficient way is to visit the DES website at des.nc.gov or contact Customer Call Center (888.737.0259) to file a claim.

If I have employees working intermittently, what should they do when filing for unemployment insurance benefits?

If I have employees working intermittently, what should they do when filing for unemployment insurance benefits?

If you have employees working intermittently (for example, one week on, one week off), they must report their gross earnings for the week in which they did the work, not the week in which they were paid, when filing for unemployment benefits.

What effect do vacation and severance weeks have on eligibility for benefits?

What effect do vacation and severance weeks have on eligibility for benefits?

Any worker who receives severance pay is considered to be attached to that employer's payroll during that time and not eligible for UI benefits.

Paid Time Off (Vacation and/or Sick Pay) will not be considered separation pay if the payment was issued as a result of the employer's written policy established prior to your separation. Workers receiving Paid Time Off (Vacation and/or Sick Pay) under these conditions will not be disqualified from receiving benefits.

My employees are returning to work. What do I need to do with regard to unemployment claims?

My employees are returning to work. What do I need to do with regard to unemployment claims?

You do not need to report to DES that your employees are returning to work. However, employers are required to report a return to work via the State Directory of New Hire reporting process.

Please notify your employees who have been receiving unemployment assistance that they should stop filing their Weekly Certifications for benefits.

If employees continue to receive benefits for weeks after they return to work, they may be required to repay the benefits they were overpaid.

What if I have an employee who has refused to return or quit when I called them back to work?

What if I have an employee who has refused to return or quit when I called them back to work?

Employers may report to DES that employees have not returned to work when work is available. Sign into your online account at des.nc.gov and click on the form on your ‘Employer Homepage’ to submit information about an employee’s refusal to return to work. We will review the information to help determine the employee’s’ eligibility for unemployment benefits.

I have an employee who does not want to return to work because they feel unsafe. Can they quit and receive unemployment benefits?

I have an employee who does not want to return to work because they feel unsafe. Can they quit and receive unemployment benefits?

Eligibility for unemployment benefits is determined on a case-by-case basis. Typically, an employee who quits without good cause is not eligible for benefits.

An employee may have good cause to refuse to work, and may be eligible to receive benefits, if there is a valid risk to their health and safety due to a significant risk of COVID-19 exposure or infection at the place of business.

It is recommended that employers comply with guidance from the CDC and/or other authorities to help provide a safer workplace as their employees return to work.

I have made some changes in the way we do business due to the current environment. Can an employee refuse to return to work due to the changes and get benefits?

I have made some changes in the way we do business due to the current environment. Can an employee refuse to return to work due to the changes and get benefits?

An employee may be eligible to receive unemployment benefits if there is a substantial change in the contract of hire and they quit their position.

For example, if you reduce their pay by 25 to 30%, permanently change their assigned shift without their agreement, move them to a new facility with a substantially longer commute, or make other drastic modifications to the type of work for which you hired them would constitute a substantial change in the contract of hire.

However, minor changes, for example moving them to a new line, requiring one or two extra hours of work a day, or changing their work location in the same facility, etc., likely would not constitute a change in the contract of hire, and they would not be eligible for unemployment benefits.

The issue of what is substantial is very fact specific and is determined on a case-by-case basis.

What if I disagree with the decision made about an employee’s eligibility for benefits?

What if I disagree with the decision made about an employee’s eligibility for benefits?

The employer and employee will be notified about the determination of eligibility for benefits. Both have the right to appeal the determination if they disagree with the decision.