The federal American Rescue Plan extended four unemployment programs. Individuals receiving either PUA or PEUC benefits will NOT have to reapply to continue to receive their benefits.
The DC Department of Employment Services is still making updates to the system to reflect the new federal benefit changes. Individuals should keep filing and certifying online every week. The new benefits will extend from March 14 through September 6. The plan also provides an additional $300 per week to anyone receiving benefits March 14 through September 4.
This week marked the one-year anniversary of the World Health Organization declaring COVID-19 a pandemic, and DC declaring a public health emergency. While we need to remain vigilant to curb the virus -- wearing our masks, keeping our social distance, etc. -- there’s a lot of new information and new protocols being put in place that have raised many questions. If you’re like me, reading dense information has gotten, well, more difficult in the last year. For upcoming weeks, I’m going to put our newsletter in a question and answer format to make it scannable and easy to read.
Topics I’ll cover this week: vaccine distribution; how Biden’s Rescue Package helps DC workers, residents, and businesses; and when should I file taxes? Next week I’ll Q & A more on unemployment insurance, rental assistance, and public schools, so send me questions you have.
On March 11th, Councilmember Elissa Silverman, chair of the DC Council's Labor and Workforce Development Committee, sent a letter highlighting four ways for the District to resolve unemployment insurance issues. The letter, to the Department of Employment Services Director Unique Morris-Hughes, comes after the Department's performance oversight hearing, where councilmembers heard from dozens of witnesses who spent hours and hours calling and emailing the Department but could not get issues resolved.
***UPDATED 4/21 WITH NEW BUDGET HEARING DATES***
In Spring 2021, the Committee on Labor and Workforce Development will hold hearings on the performance of the agencies within its jurisdiction and and the proposed FY2022 budgets of those agencies. The schedule is below and may be found online at https://dccouncil.gov/2020-2021-performance-oversight-fy-2022-budget-schedules/. We welcome testimony from the public and have several ways to submit testimony. Instructions for testifying follow. **Please note the schedule is subject to change.** Additionally, agencies’ responses to the Committee’s written pre-performance hearing questions are posted here: https://dccouncil.gov/labor-and-workforce-development-5/
On Friday, January 22, 2021, at 10:00 a.m., Councilmember Elissa Silverman, Chairperson of the Committee on Labor and Workforce Development, will hold a roundtable on the District’s universal paid family leave program. The Universal Paid Leave Amendment Act of 2016 (L21-264) established a paid leave system to provide partial wage replacement for District workers in need of leave from work due to serious family illness, personal medical needs, or to care for a new child. The universal paid leave program began providing benefits to eligible workers on July 1, 2020. At this roundtable, the Committee will hear testimony concerning the first six months of the program. See further information at the full roundtable notice here.
This has been a week of highs and lows.
It was so hopeful and affirming to see the first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine arrive at DC hospitals! Per our Vaccination Plan, thousands of essential healthcare workers will receive the first of two vaccine shots in upcoming days! Initial distribution of the vaccine is rejuvenating, even though the risk of COVID transmission remains dangerously high in the challenging winter months ahead. There was further good news that both Maryland and Virginia have agreed to contribute thousands of vaccine doses to DC hospitals given these institutions are regional and doses were distributed to states based on residential population; a DC Health survey estimates approximately 75 percent of essential healthcare workers employed in DC live outside DC.
Press Release: Department of Employment Services Director to Testify on New DC Stimulus and Potential End of Federal Funding for PUA, UI Extensions
WASHINGTON, D.C., December 15, 2020 – Unless Congress takes action, significant parts of the pandemic-related safety net created by the federal CARES Act will come to an end the day after Christmas. Tomorrow at 10:00 a.m., D.C. Department of Employment Services (DOES) Director Unique Morris-Hughes will testify before the DC Council about what claimants can expect if federal funding for certain unemployment compensation programs does not extend beyond Dec. 26. The Director will also explain who will receive DC’s new $1,200 economic stimulus payment and when it will likely arrive, as well as talk about other issues with unemployment compensation and benefit extensions.
Councilmember Elissa Silverman, Chairperson of the Committee on Labor and Workforce Development, announces a public oversight roundtable before the Committee on the District’s unemployment compensation program. The roundtable will consider the challenges District workers continue to face in applying for unemployment insurance benefits under expanded programs available during the COVID-19 pandemic. This notice has been revised to reflect the addition of a second date, December 16, 2020 at 10:00am, when the Department of Employment Services (DOES) is expected to testify.
The full text of the letter sent by Councilmember Elissa Silverman to DOES, which includes advance questions for this additional Oversight Roundtable, can be found here.
The hearing will be broadcast live on DC Cable Channel 13 and online at www.dccouncil.us.
Silverman Introduces Revised DCPS Reopening Bill
Incorporating feedback from parents, teachers, and other DCPS stakeholders, bill focuses on transparency and collaboration while reopening schools safely
WASHINGTON, D.C., December 14, 2020 – Recognizing that returning students to in-person classroom learning requires collaboration and trust among all those involved with DC Public Schools (DCPS), Councilmember Elissa Silverman (I-At-Large) released a revised version of the “Pandemic Learning Emergency Act of 2020” for consideration at tomorrow’s D.C. Council legislative meeting. The goal of the bill is to shift the DCPS reopening process from one that has been disjointed, chaotic, and confusing to a process that is cooperative and transparent.
Dear Director Morris-Hughes:
Yesterday’s announcement by Mayor Bowser of a $1,200 supplemental payment to some of our unemployed workers was great news, and I was glad to see you at the press conference to explain how the payment will work. Still, there are many questions about who will get the money and when. As you know, this is a scary time for our unemployment claimants, because federal CARES Act funding will end in less than three weeks. If Congress doesn’t take action, the program that has provided weekly checks for an estimated 40,000 DC independent contractors and gig workers will evaporate, as well as money to extend traditional unemployment insurance for another 120,000 DC workers.
[Click here for a PDF of the letter or continue reading below]