Information for COVID-19 FAQ, Employers, Jobseekers, Self-Employed and Child Care

Due to COVID-19, the due date for the 1st Quarter 2020 tax reports and payments is extended to May 15, 2020.

On this page:

Overview

At the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC), the health and well-being of our employers, employees and communities is our top priority. We understand the concern and uncertainty you may be experiencing surrounding the coronavirus (COVID-19) and are committed to being responsive to the needs of our customers as the situation evolves.

Note: All information regarding Coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) is subject to change at any time due to the changing nature of the pandemic. Please revisit this page regularly for updates.

The Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) is working with federal, state and local government officials and agencies to help manage the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. On Friday, March 13, 2020, Governor Greg Abbott declared a disaster relating to the pandemic.

The United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is closely monitoring the pandemic and partnering with health agencies and health care providers to contain the spread of the illness and help people deal with its effects.

Have questions regarding COVID-19 and your business? Read our Employer FAQs.

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Sign Up for Updates

If you have been impacted by COVID-19, locate information and resources for employers seeking workers or as a jobseeker seeking employment or other support services sign-up for TWC COVID-19 updates.

Email Updates
To sign up for updates or to access your subscriber preferences, please enter your contact information below.

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Employer Work Refusal Documentation

Employee Refused Return-to-Work Offer? Let us know!

If you offered any of your employees a chance to return to work and they refused, TWC needs to know. Please report each individual who refused to return to work on our online Employer Work Refusal Documentation form.

 

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Unemployment Benefits

At present, the U.S. government and Texas legislature have not changed any laws or rules concerning unemployment benefits during the pandemic. However, Department of Labor guidance provides that federal law permits significant flexibility for states to provide Unemployment Insurance (UI) services related to COVID-19. Based on this, TWC will be waiving work search requirements for all claimants and the waiting week for those claimants affected by COVID-19.

Employers who have had to lay off employees or reduce their hours due to the COVID-19 pandemic need to tell TWC that the employees’ job separation or reduction in hours is due to the pandemic when they respond to a Notice of Application for Unemployment Benefits. Also, if the employer has laid off multiple employees, the employer can send ONE blanket employer response for all the affected employees. Employers should include their TWC Account Number on the response. TWC will apply the response to all the affected employees who have applied for benefits.

CARES Act

Under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act dated March 27, 2020, individuals who are self-employed, seeking part-time employment, or who otherwise would not qualify for regular Unemployment Compensation (UC) or Extended Benefits (EB) under state or federal law or Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) under section 2107 may be eligible for assistance under PUA. Coverage may also include individuals who have exhausted their benefits under regular UC or EB claims under state or federal law, or PEUC.

TWC is taking action to implement the new law and working with the Department of Labor to implement the act while continuing to work tirelessly to process unemployment insurance claims caused by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Thanks to the CARES Act, TWC has also protected covered employer accounts from chargeback.

//twc.texas.gov/news/unemployment-news for updates and current information.

The Texas Unemployment Insurance (UI) program pays benefits to those individuals who lost their jobs through no fault of their own. TWC determines benefit eligibility based on past wages, why someone lost their job, and ongoing eligibility requirements.

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Tax Department

Due to COVID-19, the due date for the 1st Quarter 2020 tax reports and payments is extended to May 15, 2020.

Due to the unprecedented amount of internet traffic on both our claimant and employer systems, PLEASE DO NOT START FILING your 1ST Quarter 2020 TAX REPORT UNTIL after APRIL 15, 2020.

This will allow uninterrupted internet access for individuals filing for unemployment and help ensure employers have access to their online accounts.

The Texas Workforce Commission has determined that a Texas employer’s account will not be charged for any claims filed due to COVID-19.

Benefits paid to a former employee as a result of COVID-19 will not be included in the employer’s future tax rate calculations.

Please note employers will receive a Notice of Maximum Potential Chargeback regarding the reason for claimant separation(s). Employers should provide a detailed reason to assist our Benefits Department in making any COVID-19 Chargeback determinations.

The following is also a consideration:

  • if a business has closed temporarily or permanently, a Mass Claim may need to be initiated
  • If employee hours are reduced, layoffs can potentially be avoided through TWC’s shared work program

Additionally,  Reimbursing Employers are excluded from any Chargeback protections as outlined in 205.011(2) and 204.022 of the Texas Unemployment Compensation Act.

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Appeals Notice

Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) Appeals hearings are proceeding as scheduled. If you have a hearing scheduled, please participate according to the directions on the Notice of Hearing. If you have any questions or concerns about participating in the hearing related to COVID-19, please contact your hearing officer directly using the contact information on your Notice of Hearing.

We understand that mail delivery has been delayed and employers and claimants have had trouble accessing their Electronic Correspondence Inbox due to the high volume of people trying to access Employer Benefits Services (EBS) and Unemployment Benefits Services (UBS). TWC will not penalize you if you file your appeal late. Make sure to indicate in your appeal if you had trouble appealing because you could not access EBS timely or your mail was delivered late.

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Precautions for Employers

The CDC recommends that all employers consider how best to decrease the spread of acute respiratory illness and lower the impact of COVID-19 in their workplace in the event that the illness spreads. All employers should be ready to implement strategies to protect their workforce from COVID-19 while ensuring continuity of operations. The CDC has prepared a list of recommended strategies to help employers contain the spread of the illness within their workplace:

  • Actively encourage sick employees to stay home
  • Separate sick employees in the workplace and send them home
  • Emphasize staying home when sick, respiratory etiquette and hand hygiene by all employees by posting informational posters and setting up multiple hand hygiene stations
  • Perform routine environmental cleaning and provide disposable wipes for employees to use
  • Get the latest information regarding travel safety
  • Communicate your attendance expectations to your employees

The CDC also recommends that employers create a flexible plan to manage sick leave policy and attendance issues, and to implement working remotely and avoiding holding meetings in close quarters. For more information, see: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/guidance-business-response.html.

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Mass Claims and Shared Work Programs

Facing Layoffs? Check out TWC’s Mass Claims Program

If you have to close your business either temporarily or permanently and need to lay off employees, you may be able to submit a mass claim for unemployment benefits on their behalf. The Mass Claims program streamlines the unemployment benefit claims process for employers faced with either temporary or permanent layoffs. Employers can submit basic worker information on behalf of their employees to initiate claims for unemployment benefits. You can submit a mass claim request on Employer Benefits Services 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

To submit a Mass Claim Request:

  • Log on to Employer Benefits Services and select Mass Claims Request. Note: We have waived the requirement that you must submit your Mass Claims Request at least five days prior to the planned layoff.

To submit a Mass Claim Request manually:

Note: If you have already laid off staff, you cannot use Employer Benefits Services (EBS) to submit a Mass Claim. If your layoff date was in the past and you have 10 or more employees affected by the pandemic, you will need to fill out and submit Mass Claims documents manually:

  • Complete the Mass Claims SpreadsheetMS Excel and the Mass Claims Agreement Letter MS Word. The spreadsheet has an instructions tab to help you identify which fields are required and which are optional.
  • Email the completed documents to TWC’s Mass Claims Coordinator at ui.massclaims@twc.state.tx.us. Note: You can leave the columns highlighted in blue blank.
  • Make sure your email contains the following information:
    • Your company’s name, address, phone number, and TWC Tax Account Number
    • Contact person’s name (authorized representative with signature authority)
    • Contact’s email address, and phone number
    • The layoff date and how many employees were affected

Our Mass Claims department will process your Mass Claim request in the order received.

For more information, see: Mass Claims for Unemployment Benefits

Need to Reduce Employee Hours? Check out TWC’s Shared Work Program

If your business has slowed down due to the pandemic and you need to reduce employee working hours, you may be able to avoid laying off employees by submitting a shared work plan. The Shared Work program provides Texas employers with an alternative to layoffs. TWC developed this voluntary program to help Texas employers and employees withstand a slowdown in business.

Shared Work allows employers to:

  • Supplement their employees’ wages lost because of reduced work hours with partial unemployment benefits.
  • Reduce normal weekly work hours for employees in an affected unit by at least 10 percent but not more than 40 percent; the reduction must affect at least 10 percent of the employees in that unit.

Notification for Employers

Shared Work unemployment benefits are payable to employees who qualify for and participate in an approved Shared Work Plan. Workers may choose not to participate. Employees who qualify will receive both wages and Shared Work unemployment benefits.

In order for a salaried exempt employee to participate in Shared Work, their hours worked and salary must be reduced based on Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) guidelines. If you have questions on FLSA guidelines, please contact the U.S. Department of Labor, Wage and Hour Division.

Claimants who do not have enough wages in their base period to qualify for regular unemployment insurance (UI) are not eligible for the Shared Work program. If such a claimant was included on a Shared Work application, they will be removed from the employer’s Shared Work plan.

Claimants who do not qualify for the Shared Work program or regular UI may be eligible for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA). PUA is a program authorized by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) that provides unemployment benefits to individuals who do not qualify for or have exhausted their regular UI benefits. These claimants must file an individual regular UI claim (outside of the Shared Work program) and TWC will determine PUA eligibility. While receiving PUA, these claimants must request payment every two weeks and report their work and earnings. TWC will deduct any earnings from their weekly PUA benefit amount.

To apply for benefits online, see Unemployment Benefits Services: https://twc.texas.gov/jobseekers/unemployment-benefits-services

For more information, see TWC’s Shared Work web page.

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Fraud Prevention

Alert! Be aware of unemployment insurance scams and fraudulent phone calls. Do not give your personally identifiable information like your date of birth or your Social Security number to anyone you are not sure of.

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