Thursday, April 2, 2020

Important Information About Unemployment Claims in Pennsylvania

This is from the Department of Labor's Website on April 2, 2020 @ 1:30 p.m.

Federal CARES Update

The federal CARES Act will provide unemployment benefits to the self-employed and gig workers; provide additional weeks of benefits for those exhausting unemployment compensation; and will increase the total weekly amount paid for claimants.  We will update our website with instructions on accessing these benefits as we receive guidance from the federal government. Please check our site regularly for updated instructions and to find FAQs about unemployment compensation

Self-employed Federal CARES Update

The federal CARES Act will provide unemployment benefits to the self-employed, gig workers, and other individuals who previously were not eligible for unemployment.  Special instructions will be provided to these individuals.  At this time, you should NOT file a claim through the existing online system or phone number if you are not currently eligible for unemployment.


IMPORTANT UPDATE: Status of Claims Processing 

If you opened your claim between March 15 and March 21: We are working quickly to mail a PIN to you so you can file for benefits starting Sunday, March 29, 2020.  If you do not receive your PIN by Saturday, March 28, please remember that you may file any day through Friday, April 3, 2020.  If you do not receive your PIN in time for you to file by April 3, we will make accommodations for filing and will update these instructions, accordingly.

If you opened your claim between March 22 and March 28: Your first day to file will be Sunday, April 5, 2020. We will update these instructions, accordingly, as we monitor our progress with mail processing.

For All New Claims: Mailing PINs is a top priority, so you may not have received your financial determination yet.  When you do receive your financial determination and if you detect an error, you may file an appeal at that time.  We are processing all documents as quickly as possible and appreciate your patience during this evolving situation. 

Solving Employment-Related Problems Since 1991

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Nuts and Bolts of Emergency Grants Available to Small Business Owners, Charitable Institutions and Independent Contractors

How do I apply for an SBA small business loan if I want to keep my business operating during the Coronavirus pandemic?

There are currently two different grants available, and I think that a business can qualify for both.  I discuss each in the below videos.

The $10 Thousand Emergency Economic Loan Grant (EIDL) available from the Small Business Administration (SBA):

The Up To $10 Million Payroll Protection Loan/Grant Available from the SBA:

One may want to consider these loans in lieu of laying off workers and seeking unemployment benefits, which will lead to a hefty unemployment compensation surcharge to the company when things get back to normal! 

Resolving Employment Disputes Since 1991

Hold That Application - Special Application for Unemployment Benefits for Self-Employed, Independent Contractors and Gig Workers Still Being Developed

Self-Employed Business Owners and Independent Contractors Awaiting Development by States of Special Application for Unemployment benefits Pursuant to Federal Coronavirus Stimulus Bill

As discussed previously, unemployment benefits are administered by states, not the federal government.  So, when the recent $2 Trillion Coronavirus Stimulus Bill included provisos providing that UC benefits would be available to self-employed business owners, independent contractors and gig workers shuttered due to the Coronavirus, we suggested that implementing these provisions would happen at the state level, and could be complicated.

The below video explains the status of this situation as of March 31, 2020 at 10:30 a.m.:

Solving Pennsylvania Employment-Related Problems Since 1991
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Here is information on SBA grants available to small business owners and independent contractors - an alternative to laying off workers or shuttering business and seeking UC benefits:

First the $10 Million Payroll Protection Loan/Grant available from the Small Business Administration (SBA):

Next, the $10 Thousand Emergency Economic Loan Grant (EIDL) available from the Small Business Administration (SBA)

Click Here if you have questions about any aspect of employment law, from wrongful termination, to wage and overtime claims, to employment, severance and non-compete contracts, to discrimination and retaliation laws, to Family and Medical Leave…

Click Here if you have questions about any aspect of Pennsylvania Unemployment Law, from willful misconduct, to voluntary quit, to Referee Hearings, to severance issues…

Friday, March 27, 2020

Does $2 Trillion Coronavirus Stimulus Package Include Unemployment Benefits for Self-Employed Small Business Owners, Independent Contractors and Gig Workers?

States (Still) Developing Special Application for Self-Employed, Independent Contractors and Gig Workers Pursuant to Federal Coronavirus Stimulus Bill as of March 31, 2020

We will continue to provide updates as we keep a close eye on this situation.

Let's Stick Together by Staying Apart
Good Health and God's Speed to All
Can I Get Unemployment if I am Self-Employed and my Business is Shut Down Due to Coronavirus (COVID 19) Under New Stimulus Package Passed on March 25, 2020?

To be clear, there is no one that truly knows this answer for sure right now, for a variety of reasons.

UPDATE: Summary of Families First Coronavirus Bill Requiring Paid Leave to Certain Employees  

The Administration of Unemployment Benefits is Done by States, not the Federal Government

What is known is that for most employees in America, the administration of Unemployment Compensation takes place at the state level, in accordance with state laws, and without interference or influence from the federal government.  The Stimulus Bill is not going to change that, I do not believe.

Traditionally, and Uniformly, Self-Employed Business Owners Cannot Get Unemployment Benefits Either During Seasonal Shut Downs or Complete Failure of the Business

There are reasons for this, most have them having to do with avoiding any incentive for struggling small businesses to "give up," and providing "disincentive" to small business owners who decide to purposefully allow their business to tank so they can pursue new or better opportunities.

Many self-employed business owners do not pay themselves W-2 wages or, even if they do, such wages reflect only a part of their actual income (the balance being through distributions of one kind or the other).

John A. Gallagher has been handling business disputes and employment-related matters in Pennsylvania since 1991.  Call him today for a free consultation at 610-647-5027 or e-Mail him at
How Are My Unemployment Compensation Benefits Calculated?

Hence, as discussed below, even if such owners are entitled to unemployment benefits, since such benefits are calculated based upon one's "reported wages," it will be very difficult for the Department of Labor to accurately calculate one's weekly benefit rate.

It is Well Established, Historically, that Independent Contractors are Viewed as Self-Employed" and are Therefore not Eligible for Unemployment Benefits if They Lose Employment

As for independent contractors (i.e. 1099 workers), the rule has always been that they are deemed to essentially be "self-employed," and are therefore ineligible for unemployment if separated from employment through no fault of their own.

There are  two types of 1099 workers, if you will.  The first own a business, work for many different people clients (think: contractor, lawyer, electrician, painter, psychologist, etc.), but do not pay themselves W-2 wages.  Such persons truly are "self-employed" under the standard definition.

If you are Misclassified as an Independent Contractor and Laid Off,
You are Entitled to Unemployment Benefits - Coronavirus or Not

However, there is a larger contingent of 1099 workers - they do work only for one company, and are not paid W-2 wages (often because the company does not want them "on the payroll.")  Many such persons, I dare say hundreds of thousands at any given time, are what we refer to as "misclassified."

If You Have Been Misclassified as an Independent Contractor and are Laid Off Due to Coronavirus, You Will be Eligible for Unemployment Benefits

Click Here to look at the legal test for whether you are truly an employee who has been misclassified as an Independent Contractor.  Coronavirus or not, I have helped many misclassified "independent contractors" win Unemployment benefits by proving that they are in fact "true employees" under the law.

Gig Workers Historically Deemed Self-Employed and Ineligible for Unemployment Compensation Benefits

Gig workers, such as lounge lizards, comedians and acoustic artists frequenting your local pub, are without question almost always "self-employed.  Many of the are paid in cash, and I would expect that most do not pay themselves any W-2 wages.

Does the Coronavirus Stimulus Package Give Unemployment Compensation Benefits to Self-Employer Business Owners, Independent Contractors and Gig Workers Such as Musicians, Motivational Speakers and Comedians?

I am afraid there is not a perfectly clear answer on how it is going to work as of yet, but the answer is definitely YES - at least in some form or fashion. I am basing this answer in part on an excellent article from authored by Kelly Anne Smith and published on March 25, 2020.  This article highlights what I agree are some significant unanswered questions about the Stimulus Bill.

Federal Government Will Provide $600 Per Week Unemployment Subsidy to All Eligible Workers for Up To 4-Months

On its face, the Bill will provide an additional $600 per week of unemployment benefits for up to 4 months to all persons who have qualified under state law for such benefits.  This is going to be federally funded (the federal government has traditionally subsidized state benefit programs over the years, particularly during times of national economic hardship).

In Pennsylvania You Can Get Up to $1,183 a Week In Benefits for up to Four Months
What is the Most I Can Receive Per Week in Unemployment Benefits Under the $2 Trillion Coronaviruus Stimulus Bill?

What will that mean?  Well the maximum benefit rate for Pennsylvania claimants is $583 per week (that maximum rate is for people who earn approximately $57,000 per year or more).  So, it means that the maximum weekly benefit in Pennsylvania will be $1,183 per week.  That is the equivalent of an annual salary of $61,516 a year in salary.

So, if I am reading things right (and bearing mind they told me no math would be involved), eligible employees who earn $61,516  or less in Pennsylvania will be made whole over the first 4-months of unemployment.  That is great news!!!

If You are the Owner of a Small Business That is Completely Shut Down Due to Coronavirus, You May be Eligible for up to $1,183 in Unemployment Benefits in Pennsylvania

At this point, the Stimulus Bill most certainly provides that small business owners will be entitled to unemployment benefits. Let me quote Ms. Smith's Forbes article, which eloquently illustrates the problem:

In an unprecedented move, the stimulus bill expands unemployment protections to gig workers, freelancers and self-employed individuals, who typically don’t qualify for unemployment benefits.

Seth Harris, former Deputy U.S. Secretary of Labor, describes this aspect of the stimulus package as a “gigantic change,” but notes that it could be complicated to execute.
“It will be harder [to calculate] because these workers don’t have a W-2 or an average weekly wage,” Harris says. “These folks have income that varies dramatically from week to week or month to month.”
It’s not clear yet how state benefits will be calculated for these workers; unemployment is traditionally calculated as a percentage of weekly earnings, up to a maximum amount.

How Will Small Business Owners be Able to Prove Their Loss of Income in Order to Qualify for Unemployment Benefits Under the Coronavirus Stimulus Bill?

The way I see things, the Stimulus Bill does not override state eligibility requirements - which have universally prohibited small business owners from collecting unemployment benefits. Now, the Fed can, I suppose, order states to award benefits to such owners (and it appears that it has), but the Bill does not as I understand tell states how to determine such eligibility.

This is an extremely challenging question and, at this point, I do not believe anyone truly "knows" the answer to this question. We will have to wait for guidance from the each states'  Department of Labor on this point.

There are other issues, such as whether the business has to be completely shut down in order to qualify for benefits, or whether partial benefits will be made available to companies that are still operating, but at a dramatically reduced level.

My suggestion is that any small business owners significantly affected by the Coronavirus apply for unemployment benefits without delay - but in doing so be scrupulously honest about your pre-Coronavirus income and the extent to which your business has been impacted by COVID-19.

Apply for Benefits but Do Not Overstate Your Income or Income Loss to Prevent Serious Future Problems

Click Here to read about How and When to Apply for Unemployment Benefits in Pennsylvania.

Why be honest - beyond its own virtue? Well, trust me, in the years to come the Department of Labor will be looking hard at the claims made during this crisis period, and you do NOT want to be in an at-fault overpayment situation in the future (I saw a LOT of that during the recession that began in 2008 - I had cases with substantial overpayment claims up through 2013, as I recall).

So, make the application, be honest and see what happens.

And, please do not hesitate to call me to tell me how the process is going. I can not only perhaps provide some guidance but, also, I can learn how the applications are being treated by the Department of Labor and pass that along to the public via my Blog.

Serving Pennsylvania's Work Force Since 1991
Click Here if you have questions about any aspect of employment law, from wrongful termination, to wage and overtime claims, to employment, separation and non-compete contracts, to discrimination and retaliation laws, to Family and Medical Leave…

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Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Do I Have to Work if I am at Risk Due to the Coronavirus? Can I Quit my Job Due to the Coronavirus and get Unemployment? Is There any Law that Protects Me if I am Putting Myself or Family in Danger at Work Because of Coronavirus?

I am Employed by a Business that Provides Essential Services but I am Afraid that if I Go to Work I Will Become Infected by the Coronavirus - What Can I Do???

Let's all Be Safe and Care for One Another
Initially, the focus in our great country has been on how to help people that cannot work due to employer shutdowns, illness arising out of the Coronavirus or school closings.  The Families First Coronavirus Bill addresses those situations by providing pay to certain employees who are unable to work because of these factors.

A great deal of attention has also been on the rights of employees who are laid off or furloughed due to COVID-19 to collect Unemployment Benefits.

I Have a Medical Condition or Risk Factors Such as a Compromised Immune System, Asthma, etc. That Make it Dangerous for Me to Work Because of the Coronavirus - Do I Have the Right to Take a Leave of Absence or Insist on a Lay-off or Furlough?

However, the Families First Bill does not take into account the plight of those with medical conditions that compromise their ability to either ward off the virus or to avoid potentially serious medical complications if they should contract it.

UPDATE: Summary of Families First Coronavirus Bill Requiring Paid Leave to Certain Employees  

I believe that Congress was well aware that such a subsection of American workers existed when they passed the Bill, but intentionally chose to ignore addressing such situations - after all, it is understood that workers for essential businesses are....essential and, hey, everyone wants to work, right?

Well there are two problems with that thinking.

First, while certain essential businesses employ trained medical professionals such as doctors, nurses and the like, others, such as supermarkets, employ more ordinary folks who, unlike their medical counterparts, are not provided with masks, gloves and (perhaps) even hand sanitizer.  Further, it is really hard to remain at least 6 feet away from people you are ringing up at a cash register!

Also, to be fair, there is one other problem - companies who fear that shutdown will cause irreparable financial harm are deeming themselves "essential;" even if they really are not (and no one is shutting down such businesses, the government has enough problems on its hands!).

I Am Healthy but I am Worried that if I Catch Coronavirus at Work I will Infect my Parents or Grandparents.  Do I Have to Keep Going to Work?  Can I Quit and Get Unemployment?  Can I Take a Medical or Family Leave of Absence?

Only Applies to Employees With Active Incapacitating Illness
With Family Members that Need Care
I have been fielding calls over the last few days from workers who are at risk due to age or medical profile, or who are concerned that they will infect their loved ones if they continue to work.  They are asking me whether they have a right to a paid leave (no, the Families First Bill does not provide for paid leave under such circumstance, nor does any other law) or at least unpaid leave (no, since they are not sick they cannot take Family and Medical Leave and the Families First Bill does not provide for leave under such circumstances).

UPDATE (3/27/20):  How Much Extra Unemployment Compensation Benefits Per Week is Federal Stimulus Bill Providing? 

UPDATE (3/27/20): Can I Get Unemployment if I Own a Small Business that is Forced to Shut Down Due to the Coronoavirus?

If You Are at Medical Risk at Work Due to Coronavirus, or Are Worried About Infecting Your Loved Ones, You Should Seek Unpaid Leave as a "Reasonable Accommodation" Under the Americans With Disabilities Act

The ADA - Not Just for People in Wheelchairs
Unpaid leave can be a reasonable accommodation under the ADA. While the ADA does not deal with epidemics (no law in the U.S. did prior to this month) it seems to me that the ADA is an appropriate vehicle to utilize in order to request unpaid leave if you are required to continue to work in an essential business, particularly if you or a loved one with whom you live has one or more increased medical risk factors that put them in grave jeopardy if they should become infected.

Unfortunately, laying out the strategy for how to pursue an ADA request for a reasonable accommodation is beyond the scope of my abilities in an article such as this one.  Your employment is at issue, and thousands of dollars in wages, unemployment benefits and the like may hang in the balance.  Moreover, seeking leave as an accommodation under the ADA due to an epidemic is a novel approach - there is no legal guidance, no legal precedent, for you to follow.

The one thing I would say is that you would need to request a reasonable accommodation under ADA, and would need to specify why, as a first step.  Yet, understand, the company has lawyers, (and they are not afraid to use them!) and they "need" all of their workers - and many would rather have a "dissatisfied" employee quit than give them an accommodation.  So the first step is only that - the first step. It is when you receive the company's initial response to your request (often prepared behind the scenes by its lawyer) that the real strategizing begins.

Hence, legal guidance throughout the process would in my view be essential.

Consequently, you would be well served from the outset to seek counsel from an experienced employment attorney in order to develop and carry out the ADA strategy.  Winning such a battle is not easy, but it can be accomplished with a proper approach.

I hope you found this helpful - and God's Speed to you and your loved ones!

Solving Employment Problems Since 1991
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Click Here if you have questions about any aspect of employment law, from wrongful termination, to wage and overtime claims, to discrimination and retaliation laws, to Family and Medical Leave…

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Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Summary of Families First Coronavirus Relief Bill Passed on March 18, 2020

Summary of Main Points Employers Need to Know About Families First Coronavirus Bill 

Let me say first that one of the best summaries of the Family First Conronavirus Bill that I have seen was authored by Bill Bischoff and recently posted on  They provide some tax-related information concerning extension of the April 15 tax filing deadline, employer tax credits, etc. that I do not discuss here.

This Article from also provides a nice overview.

John A. Gallagher, Esquire
Employers with Less Than 500 Employees Must Provide Up to 10 Days of Paid Sick Leave to Certain Employees

The Act requires emergency paid sick leave of up to $511 per day for up to 10 days (up to $5,110 in total) for an eligible employee in Coronavirus quarantine or seeking a Coronavirus diagnosis. 
So in essence, at least as I read it, if an employee has been tested and found to have the Coronavirus, and thus is quarantined, he/she is eligible to be paid his/her salary (at least up to $511 per day, anyway), for up to 10-days.  At this time, I am not precisely sure where the $511 figure comes from. 
Similarly, if someone is sick, and seeking a test, they are similarly eligible for such paid leave (at least until they are told they do not have the virus).

Parents Who Cannot Work Due to Coronavirus School Closings Entitled to 12-Weeks of Leave  and Up to $12,000 of Pay
An employee can also receive emergency paid sick leave of up to $200 per day for up to 10 days (up to $2,000 in total) to care for a quarantined family member or a child whose school or child-care location has been closed due to the pandemic.  It is easy to apply that $200 a day rule when one is home merely to care for a quarantined family member.  It is with school closings that things will get sticky.
Since virtually all children are home from school, then upon proof that there are no other child-care options (i.e. a spouse of grandparent, etc.) any employee who must stay home due to school closings is entitled to up to $200 per day for 10-days.  
But, things get a little more tricky from that point on.  
The Act provides that employees who must stay home to care for children whose schools are closed are entitled to 12-weeks of leave with right to job reinstatement, and payment of up to $200 per day for a total of 50 days (i.e. 10-weeks). The $200 per day is the maximum - the figure is based upon 66.66% of the employees' normal gross pay.  So any employee earning $300 a day or more (i.e. roughly $78,000 per year or more) would receive the $200 a day maximum.
So, the way I see it, employees whose children are home from school and who cannot find substitute child care are entitled to 12-weeks of leave with job reinstatement, with up to $200 per day of paid leave during the entire 12-week period.

Congress Trying to Keep Up With COVID-19
UPDATE (3/27/20):  How Much Extra Unemployment Compensation Benefits Per Week is Federal Stimulus Bill Providing? 

Does a Company That is Shut Down Due to Coronavirus Have to Pay Employees or Can It Just Lay Them Off?
In addition to the paid leave benefits, the Act also requires that employees of companies with less than 500 employee be given unpaid leave of up to 12 weeks with full job reinstatement rights if they are eligible (i.e. have the virus and/or are quarantined).  However, such employees are entitled to be paid only the $511 per day for up to 10-days, as discussed above.   
Typically, such unpaid leave runs concurrently with paid leave.  So:
Pat the employee is diagnosed with Coronavirus on April 1.  Pat is sick and cannot return to work to until July 1. During the first 2-weeks of Pat's absence, Pat is paid $511 per day.  For the next 10-weeks, Pat's leave is unpaid (but Pat can use accrued sick time or vacation time). Provided Pat is able to return by July 1, Pat MUST be returned to his/her former job.

What If I Work From Home Already or All of My Employees Work from Home?  Do People Who Work Remotely Get Pay Under Families First Coronavirus Bill?

Let's say that a company employs many people who work from home no longer is operating because they have no business.

In that scenario, I believe that the employer's only obligation would be the $511 per day obligation discussed above.  That is, since employees working from home would not be unable to work due to school closings, the $200 per day obligation would not arise.  

Also, if the company's remote employees are not able to work because the company does not have any business, then they would not be eligible for the 12-weeks of paid or unpaid leave (and hence would not have job reinstatement rights) because their inability to work was not the result of virus-related illness or school shutdown but, rather, resulted from Coronavirus business conditions.

In such scenarios, employees should be encouraged to seek unemployment benefits.

We All Must be Resourceful During This Difficult and Challenging Time
Small Business owners With Less Than 50 Employees May Be Exempt from Paid Leave Requirements in Families First Coronavirus Bill

If a small company can prove that satisfying the obligations of the Act will cause material harm to the business (i.e. cause it to become insolvent or go bankrupt), then it will be exempt from the paid leave requirements. How exactly one goes about seeking or obtaining the exemption, and whether a claim of exempt status can be challenged by employees remains to be seen.  However, I would expect that the exempt determination is made by the employer in the first instance, and can be challenged by employees.  So I would suggest investigating those issues before one stops making the paid leave payments mandated by the Act.

Handling Employment Matters in Pennsylvania Since 1991

Click Here if you have questions about any aspect of employment law, from wrongful termination, to wage and overtime claims, to discrimination and retaliation laws, to Family and Medical Leave…

Click Here if you have questions about any aspect of Pennsylvania Unemployment Law, from willful misconduct, to voluntary quit, to Referee Hearings, to severance issues…

Let's Talk - 610-647-5027
Call 610-647-5027 for a Free Telephone Consultation (up to 15-minutes in duration) to discuss any matter, and we will see what is any assistance I can provide. 

Unemployment Referee Hearings by Telephone - The New Norm

Due to the Coronavirus, Pennsylvania Unemployment Hearings Before a Referee will in the Foreseeable Future be Conducted Via Telephone

You Need to be Perfectly Prepared to Win an Unemployment Hearing Before a Referee
CLICK HERE for a full explanation as to the important procedures and rules you need to know about a Pennsylvania Unemployment Referee Hearing held over the Telephone.

Here are the most important things to bear in mind:

1) In a willful misconduct hearing, the employer has the burden of proof  and must establish through competent evidence that the employee was fired due to willful misconduct;

2) the burden of proof may be established only by competent evidence;

3) competent evidence is first hand testimony;

4) hearsay evidence (i.e. written statements, testimony about what someone who is not at the Hearing told someone who is at the Hearing) is NOT competent evidence, but will be permitted into the record if the employee does not object to such evidence in a timely fashion.

5) all documents that either party wants to introduce as evidence at the Telephone Hearing must be submitted to the Referee at least five (5) days before the start of the Hearing or it will not be allowed into the record unless the parties should agree to waive the 5-day requirement (don't!!).

Telephone Hearings Are Tricky!
UPDATE: Summary of Families First Coronavirus Bill Requiring Paid Leave to Certain Employees  

Pennsylvania Unemployment Lawyer for Telephone Referee Hearings

Those are the keys in a nutshell! Of course, people speak fast, employers have likely been to many more Hearings than you and the Referees move things along very quickly.  So, making timely hearsay objections, which are the key for employees who want to win any sort of Unemployment Hearings, can be extremely challenging.

But, not for me!  I have handled many, many Referee hearings (over a thousand, maybe???).

Need an Attorney for a Unemployment Referee Hearing by Telephone in Pennsylvania?

Handling Employment-Related Matters in Pennsylvania Since 1991

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Many Pennsylvania Unemployment Hearings Postponed - To Be Rescheduled as Telephone Hearings (?)

John Has Handled Many, Many Referee Hearings

King of Prussia and Bristol Unemployment Referee Hearing Offices Postponing and Rescheduling Hearings Originally Set for Late March

As in ordinary times, the King of Prussia Unemployment Referee Office, which handles Hearings originating out of Chester and Montgomery Counties, sent out Hearing notices a week or two ago, many of them scheduling Referee Hearings for this week, or next (March 23-27).  Perhaps there were even notices sent out for early April.

COVID-19 is Challenging in Every Way Possible -
Stay Safe
UPDATE (3/27/20):  How Much Extra Unemployment Compensation Benefits Per Week is Federal Stimulus Bill Providing? 

UPDATE (3/27/20): Can I Get Unemployment if I Own a Small Business that is Forced to Shut Down Due to the Coronoavirus?

I have been informed that all Unemployment Referee Hearings scheduled through at least March 27 in King of Prussia have been postponed.

I called the Bristol Referee Office (serving Bucks County), and it is closed to until March 30.  I expect the same is true for other local offices, such as Philadelphia, Springfiled, Reading, etc., as well as throughout the Commonwealth.

Expectation is That, in Foreseeable Future, Pennsylvania Unemployment Hearings to be Heard by a Referee Will be Conducted by Telephone 

Referees are authorized to conduct Hearings via telephone.  I would expect that new hearing notices (called a "Notice of Hearing") will be going out soon, and that they will schedule the Referee hearings to be held telephonically.

To see if that is the case, look above the name of the Claimant and the Employer.  If it says "By Telephone" above either name (or likely both), then the Hearing will be a Telephone Hearing.

There are Special Rules for Telephone Hearings Conducted by a Pennsylvania Unemployment Hearing Referee

Click Here to read about What Happens at a Unemployment Referee Telephone Hearing in Pennsylvania

Perhaps the key thing to bear in mind is that all exhibits MUST be submitted to the Referee's Office within five days of the start of the Hearing. Since, in a willful misconduct hearing the employer bears the burden of proof, this is a critical requirement for all to understand.

Representing Pennsylvania's Workforce Since 1991
Philadelphia Area Unemployment Attorney Representing Employees

John A. Gallagher is an employment lawyer who represents employees in Pennsylvania. 

John typically represents workers who need an employment lawyer in Philadelphia County, Chester County, Delaware County, Bucks County, Berks County, Lancaster County and Montgomery County.

Pennsylvania Unemployment Employment Attorney Provides Free Telephone Consultations (15 Minutes in Duration)

If you are looking for an unemployment lawyer, and live in Malvern, Paoli, Wayne, Villanova, King of Prussia, Downingtown, Glenside, Doylestown, Radnor, Newtown Square, Exton, Philadelphia, West Chester, Skippack, Langhorne, Haverford, Nether Providence, Broomall, Drexel Hill, Pottstown, Oaks, Reading or any of their surrounding towns, feel free to send me an e-mail or give me a call.  I am always glad to spend some time with people via a free telephone consultation.

Need an Experienced Lawyer for an Unemployment Hearing Before a Referee In Malvern, King of Prussia, Springfield, Bristol, Reading, Lancaster or Philadelphia?

Click Here if you have questions about any aspect of employment law, from wrongful termination, to wage and overtime claims, to discrimination and retaliation laws, to Family and Medical Leave

Click Here if you have questions about any aspect of Pennsylvania Unemployment Law, from willful misconduct, to voluntary quit, to Referee Hearings, to severance issues

Click Here to e-mail John directly; Mr. Gallagher has handled hundreds of Referee Hearings throughout Pennsylvania.

Thanks for checking in with us.

PA. Department of Labor Issues Guidance re: Coronavirus and Unemployment

Here is Guidance Relating to Coronavirus (COVID-19) and Pennsylvania Unemployment Benefits 

COVID-19 and Employer Unemployment Compensation (UC)

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

As of: March 17, 2020


The Department of Community and Economic Development has a resource account for businesses to reach out to directly with questions and concerns about operations. Email with your name, business, contact information, and concern, and someone will be in contact to assist you.

Employees affected by a business closure, reduction in hours, or a medically or government directed quarantine or isolation should be encouraged to file for unemployment compensation (UC) benefits if no other compensation, such as paid leave, is available to them.

 Employees should be aware that they cannot receive both UC benefits and paid leave, as it may result in an "overpayment" that requires them to return benefits. 

Yes, if your employees are temporarily laid off due to a business downturn or closure as a result of COVID-19, they may be eligible for UC benefits.

If you are experiencing a business downturn, you can use L&I's Shared-Work program to avoid employee lay-offs. Additional resources for businesses are available through the PA Department of Community and Economic Development.

Your employees should first use paid sick leave or paid time off; however, if they are not receiving paid time off, they may be eligible for UC benefits.

Your employees should first use paid sick leave or paid time off. However, if they are not receiving paid time off, they may be eligible for UC benefits.


Your employees should first use paid sick leave or paid time off. However, if they are not receiving paid time off, they may be eligible for UC benefits.

The Shared-Work program can help keep employees attached to your workplace. Additional resources for businesses are available through the PA Department of Community and Economic Development.

No.  However, you may qualify for a small business loan through the PA Department of Community and Economic Development, or for other programs available through the Small Business Administration Opens In A New Window.

No, businesses who are temporarily closed due to COVID-19 will be granted Relief From Charges, and your tax rate will not be increased because of COVID-19-related claims.

Representing Pennsylvania's Workforce Since 1991