At his Sunday press conference, Gov. Mike DeWine announced he will soon sign an executive order that will make substantial changes to Ohio’s unemployment compensation system. The executive order, which was made in response to the growing pandemic caused by the new coronavirus, includes temporarily:
- Easing eligibility requirements for individuals ordered to self-quarantine by a medical professional or their employer;
- Eliminating the one-week waiting period and work search requirements;
- Holding harmless an employer’s experience rating due to layoffs resulting from the coronavirus; and
- Waiving employer penalties for late reporting and payment of next quarter’s unemployment compensation contributions.
The Executive Order will also call for mutualizing the cost of additional unemployment benefits resulting from the coronavirus, or COVID-19.
The Ohio Chamber of Commerce is always concerned about expanding benefit eligibility without making structural changes that put Ohio’s unemployment compensation trust fund on a path towards solvency. The failure to address structural problems in our unemployment compensation system that drove our trust fund into insolvency during the 2009 recession and resulted in employers paying an additional $3.4 billion in interest and taxes is a major reason for our concern. Likewise, with only enough funds to cover four months of benefits during a recession currently in the unemployment compensation trust fund, Ohio is at risk of having to borrow from the federal government to cover these benefits at the next economic downturn.
The decision to hold harmless employer experience ratings for layoffs made due to COVID-19 is a welcome component of the executive order because employers who are facing disruption in their business operations due to the pandemic should not be penalized for furloughing their workforce.
During this unprecedented time, the Ohio Chamber of Commerce is in constant communication with Gov. DeWine’s administration and other decision-makers providing input about how to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on Ohio’s economy. We look forward to continuing our dialogue throughout this period of uncertainty, and we will continue to advocate for policy solutions that benefit our more than 8,000 member companies.
More information about the unemployment compensation changes that are looming can be found on the Ohio Department of Jobs and Family Services website.