IMPROVE UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS

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By Bob Katzen

The Senate approved and sent to the House a bill that sponsors say will provide additional unemployment insurance relief to low-income families, non-profit institutions and employers.

Provisions include ensuring 30 weeks instead of 26 weeks of unemployment compensation during unemployment spikes; extending the grace period for contributions for many non-profits that self-insure for unemployment claims; protecting employers from increased unemployment insurance costs due to COVID-19; and removing a cap that results in many low-wage workers not receiving additional amounts of unemployment insurance.

“It is so important that we continue to support the people who have had their incomes interrupted by the efforts necessary to contain the spread of COVID-19,” said Sen. Pat Jehlen (D-Somerville), Senate Chair of the Joint Committee on Labor and Workforce. “I am glad we are able to take this step to expand unemployment to help more people, and their families, longer and with increased benefits.”

“Our commonwealth faces an unprecedented economic emergency as small businesses close their doors and workers lose their paychecks,” said Sen. Eric Lesser (D-Longmeadow), the Senate chair of the Joint Committee on Economic Development and Emerging Technologies. “These expansions to the unemployment insurance system will provide emergency relief to both workers who need support and business owners who need to keep the lights on.

“During this unprecedented time, we needed to develop a plan to protect both workers who lose their jobs and employers from increased UI contributions due to COVID-19 related layoffs,” said Sen. Ryan Fattman (R-Sutton). “To recover from this crisis, we need to ensure that we don’t crush companies with taxes due to forces that were beyond their control and this legislation will help to mitigate those issues.”

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