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.

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

Employer Tax Credit 

Under North Carolina’s COVID-19 Recovery Act (S.L. 2020-3), employers will receive a tax credit towards their contribution to the state’s Unemployment Insurance Fund. The credit is equal to the amount of the employer’s contribution due to the fund for the first quarter of 2020. 

Employers do not need to do anything to receive this credit other than to file their 1Q2020 Tax and Wage Report. Employers must file the report to receive the credit.

Any payments made for the first quarter will automatically be applied to any contributions due for the second quarter of 2020. If the amount of the credit is higher than the contributions due, the difference will be refunded. 

Please note that any outstanding employer bills for the first quarter of 2020 are no longer due and will be cancelled.

Attached Claims

An attached claim is an unemployment claim filed by an employer on behalf of employees who have been temporarily laid off or who have worked less than 60 percent of their customary full-time hours in a calendar week. 

Governor Roy Cooper has issued an order lifting some of the requirements for employers to file attached claims on behalf of their employees. Under Executive Order No. 131

  • An employer does not need to prepay the cost of the unemployment benefits for their employees at the time the attached claim is filed. 
  • Employers may file attached claims for a period of more than six weeks of benefits. 
  • Employers may submit an attached claim for an employee more than once in a year. 
  • Employers do not need to have a positive credit balance with DES to file attached claims. 

More Information about Filing Attached Claims

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

Am I able to file unemployment benefits on behalf of my employees who may be affected by COVID-19?

Am I able to file unemployment benefits on behalf of my employees who may be affected by COVID-19?

An attached claim is a claim filed by an employer on behalf of an employee who has been temporarily laid off or who has worked less than 60% of their customary scheduled full-time hours.

Executive Order No. 131 provides flexibility on the enforcement of some of the normal requirements for filing attached claims. Under the order: 

  • An employer does not need to prepay the cost of the unemployment benefits for their employees at the time the attached claim is filed. 
  • Employers may file attached claims for a period of more than six weeks of benefits. 
  • Employers may submit an attached claim for an employee more than once in a year. 
  • Employers do not need to have a positive credit balance with DES to file attached claims. 

The Order is effective for attached claims filed as of April 1, 2020. 

Download instructions for filing an attached claim

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.

Will my employees have to look for work?

Will my employees have to look for work?

Work search requirements are waived for claimants filing as a direct result of COVID-19. Those claimants filing for reasons other than COVID-19 are still required to search for work with at least three employer contacts each week they intend to receive unemployment insurance 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, 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.