COLUMBUS— State Reps. Erica Crawley (D-Columbus) and David Leland (D-Columbus) introduced a bill Monday to expand unemployment compensation in Ohio throughout the COVID-19 crisis. The bill would do away with work-seeking requirements for the duration of the crisis, allow caregivers for children under 13 to access unemployment compensation and lower the minimum average weekly income required in order to access unemployment compensation so that it would accommodate part-time workers who earned minimum wage.
“Many Ohioans who are unable to work cannot currently take advantage of unemployment compensation because they don’t meet the minimum income threshold,” said Rep. Crawley. “This expansion will reach those making minimum wage and can make a significant difference for the Ohioans who need it most.”
According to the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS) Worker’s Guide to Unemployment Insurance, in order to be eligible for unemployment compensation in Ohio, an individual must have had an average income of $269 or more per week during their 20-week base period. Currently, an Ohioan working 30 hours per week at minimum wage ($8.70 per hour) would be ineligible for unemployment compensation because they would only make $261 per week. The proposed legislation would ensure an Ohioan earning minimum wage for at least 20 hours per week would meet the income eligibility threshold.
“There are huge holes in the unemployment law that are letting thousands of Ohioans fall through the cracks,” said Rep. Leland. “We need to make sure that these folks get the hard-earned benefits they desperately need.”
Gov. Mike DeWine issued an executive order on March 16 to expand unemployment compensation to employees quarantined by their employer or a medical professional and to employees temporarily unemployed due to sudden closures. The order also waived work search requirements for those individuals, waived the normal one-week waiting period for unemployment compensation, and ensured benefits paid on unemployment claims would be mutualized rather than charged to employers.
The Ohio House of Representatives is scheduled to convene for the first time since the State of Emergency was declared this Tuesday, March 24.