IMPROVE UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS

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By Bob Katzen

Governor Charlie Baker signed into law legislation that supporters 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 any week in which there are more than 100,000 claims; 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.

Supporters said these provisions make important changes to the unemployment insurance system and will provide emergency relief to both affected workers and business owners who are trying to keep their businesses afloat. They said it is important that the state continue to support workers who, through no fault of their own, have had their incomes interrupted by the executive orders and regulations necessary to contain the spread of COVID-19.

“It is welcome news that this legislation, passed with bipartisan support, has been quickly signed into law,” said Sen. Eric Lesser (D-Longmeadow). “Our communities are facing layoffs and potential long-term consequences during this health and economic crisis. This is a vital action taken to protect the wellbeing of our economy while providing urgent relief for over one million families and hundreds of small businesses.”

“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). “I am glad we are able to take this step to expand unemployment to help more people, and their families, longer and with extended benefits.”

“This legislation strikes the appropriate balance of providing additional support to employees and nonprofits while also ensuring employers are not negatively penalized due to unforeseen circumstances in these unprecedented times,” said Brooke Thomson, Executive Vice President of Government Affairs at Associated Industres of Massachusetts (AIM). “Passage of this legislation will ensure employees and employers are in a position to get the economy up and running again as soon as it’s safe to do so.”

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