How to Cope If You’ve Been Laid Off Due to COVID-19

How to cope, and steps to take to ensure your financial security.

4 PM production / Shutterstock
4 PM production / Shutterstock

Andrew Yang, former 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, responded to the NBA’s 2019-2020 season suspension announcement: “The NBA season being postponed indefinitely is a major blow. A lot of parking attendants, security guards, concession stand workers and others are about to miss out on wages and tips that they desperately need.” 

Michael McCann, Sports Illustrated legal analyst and staff writer, notes that NBA players’ salaries and jobs are secure for now. Like Yang, McCann’s concern is for other employees who contribute to the NBA’s success.  McCann points out: “Arena workers tend to be employed on a part-time and seasonal basis. This generally means their earnings are contingent upon whether they’re needed to service events. If they aren’t needed, they aren’t paid. The cancellation of NBA games, along with the cancellation of conferences, conferences and other entertainment events, almost certainly means these workers’ wages will plummet.” 

The workers who staff NBA events and their counterparts who do similar work around the country drive the economy. They provide food preparation, service and delivery. They ensure event security, child and elder care and other vital services. These employees and their paychecks stand to be impacted by event cancellations, quarantines and sick leaves, which they need and deserve to care for themselves and their families. 

McCann adds: “State laws vary on under which conditions part-time workers can collect unemployment benefits. None of this is good news for dance team members, security officers, janitors, ushers, box office staff, lightening and production technicians, cashiers, cooks, concession stand workers and parking garage attendants, or the family members who depend on their earnings. One hopeful sign: Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban has told media he’ll find ways of helping displaced arena workers. We’ll see if other owners do the same.”    

If your hours have been cut or if you’ve been laid off or furloughed, you’re weathering additional stress during an already challenging time. These are some things to keep in mind as you move forward. 

State-Level Resources

Hourly workers qualify for unemployment benefits; each state has its own stipulations around qualification requirements. Congress is voting on a plan that aims to support families struggling because of the COVID-19 outbreak. The Washington Post reports: “The legislation will include measures to boost paid family leave and unemployment insurance, ensure free coronavirus testing, and strengthen nutritional aid like food stamps.”   

States are also aiming to extend assistance to employees who have lost their jobs because of the outbreak. New Jersey, along with several other states, has declared a state of emergency. Doing so gives states access to federal funds.  New Jersey explains on the state’s website that “Once a federal disaster is declared, employees unable to work may be eligible for unemployment assistance.” 

Washington, which has also declared a state of emergency, offers unemployment benefits for qualifying residents, plus “standby.” This means that “you do not have to look for another job while you collect unemployment benefits, so long as you stay in contact with your regular employer. You must accept any work you can do without breaking isolation or quarantine that is offered by your employer, such as telework.” 

Illinois has likewise declared a state of emergency and is advising residents: “If a person is off work, through no fault of their own, they can seek unemployment insurance benefits from IDES [Illinois Department of Employment Security]. . . .The administration is also asking Congress to waive interest on any federal loans that Illinois and other state Unemployment Trust Fund accounts might require due to added strain from the outbreak. They are also asking Congress to maintain the full federal unemployment tax credit for employers in states that may require those loans.”

California, another state that has declared emergency, advises residents to file an unemployment insurance claim, which can help them secure “partial wage replacement benefit payments to workers who lose their job or have their hours reduced, through no fault of their own. Workers who are temporarily unemployed due to COVID-19 and expected to return to work with their employer within a few weeks are not required to actively seek work each week. However, they must remain able and available and ready to work during their unemployment for each week of benefits claimed and meet all other eligibility criteria. Eligible individuals can receive benefits that range from $40-$450 per week.”

Research what’s available in your state. This way, you can generate some income while you plan your next move. 

Target Jobs that the Current Climate Creates 

On March 11, Glassdoor Economist and Data Scientist Daniel Zhao wrote “Last week, we reported that dozens of job postings on Glassdoor were being created in response to the outbreak. But even in the last week, the number of job postings has exploded, increasing from 100 on Sunday last week to 300 this Sunday in the United States, a 3x increase.” 

Despite the economic uncertainty that the pandemic has ushered in for some types of jobs, the medical field is experiencing high volume hiring. Roles like medical receptionistmedical housekeeping staff and hospital food service staff are in need of quality candidates. As the number of people working from home mounts in the coming days, you may also find open roles like caregiver to seniors or children; likewise, food or grocery delivery services stands to experience growth. Another industry that stands to become more robust in the near future, residential cleaning services are likely to need staffing. 

Coping with Uncertainty 

Losing your livelihood at a time of national uncertainty makes an already challenging time even more stressful and difficult. While losing our livelihood can make us feel guilty and responsible, none of this is on you. You could not have anticipated this, and this is not your fault.  

Cleveland Cavs Player Kevin Love,  who committed $100,000 to support arena workers and support staff in what he hopes will be a leadership gift, writes: “Through the game of basketball, we’ve been able to address major issues and stand together as a progressive league that cares about the players, the fans, and the communities where we work. I’m concerned about the level of anxiety that everyone is feeling…Pandemics are not just a medical phenomenon. They affect individuals and society on so many levels…” 

Best of luck in your search; we’re rooting for you. 

Originally published on Glassdoor.

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