Unemployment Insurance - Employers FAQs
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Q: I am a business owner that’s paying the Unemployment Insurance (UI) premiums, but I’m not on payroll. Am I qualified to receive UI benefits?

A: Yes- If an owner is on payroll they can collect UI benefits and even if you aren’t drawing a salary but are an incorporated business then you are considered to be an employee of the business for these purposes.

Q: Am I required to have my employees exhaust all paid time off (PTO) before putting them on a temporary layoff after which they will apply for unemployment?

A: No-employers are not required to pay out all PTO before a layoff but they are allowed to do so. Use of leave time during a temporary layoff may vary based on employer-specific policies. For example, a business may require the use or payout of leave time- refer to your own respective manual.

Q: If my employee is receiving unemployment benefits, will paying them PTO make them ineligible for said unemployment benefits?

A: Receiving PTO may have an impact on unemployment benefits that are paid to your employees-this is contingent on what your policy as the employer is.

Q: Will my experience rating record be affected if any of my employees receive unemployment benefits because of COVID-19?

A: No- if any of your employees receive unemployment benefits due solely to COVID-19, benefits that are paid to the workers will not be charged against your experience rating record.

Q: If I have to temporarily close part or all of my business operations because of COVID-19 and lay off my employees, do they have to look for other work in order to collect unemployment benefits?

A: No-as long as you plan to return them to the jobs they held prior to being laid off when you have reopened for business and/or resumed operations, they will not have to look for other work.

Q: If I need to temporarily layoff my employees because of COVID-19, can I continue to pay health insurance premiums for my employee(s) during the layoff period, or will that negatively impact my employee(s)’ unemployment benefits?

A: Continuing to provide health insurance will not impact your employee(s)’ ability to receive unemployment benefits.

Q: Are there other ways I can retain my workforce during a temporary slowdown in work?

A: Yes- the Maine Department of Labor (MDOL) offers the WorkShare program. WorkShare allows employers to voluntarily reduce the number of hours of staff in lieu of layoffs. Your employees can then collect a partial unemployment benefit to help them offset the loss of income.

WorkShare Information & WorkShare Phone Number: (207) 623-6783

Q: Can I submit questions to the MDOL as they arise regarding Unemployment Insurance?

A: Yes- MDOL has staff that will be checking the queue of inquiries and responding accordingly.

Submit Questions to MDOL about UI

Q: Is there any additional paperwork I need to have prepared for the MDOL regarding Unemployment Insurance, or information I should be on the lookout for?

A: You should make sure that your quarterly returns for all four quarters of 2019 have been submitted to MDOL and you should also prepare your first quarter returns. Make sure that you respond immediately to the Separation and Wage request- this will be sent to your address of record or to your email of record if you have signed up for notifications that way.

Q: What is the best number to call for questions pertaining to unemployment insurance claims and benefits as the relate to employers?

A: Bureau of Unemployment Compensation Tax Division: 207-621-5120. Please listen to the menu of options and your call with be directed accordingly.