Employment and economic development resources during COVID-19

The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) has developed a website to provide general information to workers and business impacted by the pandemic. The website is being updated as new information becomes available: https://mn.gov/deed/newscenter/covid.

Unemployment Benefits: If a business you work for has reduced your hours or terminated your employment in response to the pandemic or for any reason that is no fault of your own, it is likely that you qualify for the unemployment insurance benefits. The agency is encouraging applicants to utilize their website as they are receiving a high volume of calls.

The application to apply is available at the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development’s website: https://www.uimn.org/applicants/index.jsp.

Who qualifies: The March 16 executive order makes applicants eligible for unemployment benefits if:

  • A healthcare professional or health authority recommended or ordered them to avoid contact with others
  • They have been ordered not to come to their workplace due to an outbreak of a communicable disease
  • They have received notification from a school district, daycare, or another childcare provider that either classes are canceled or the applicant’s ordinary childcare is unavailable, provided that the applicant made reasonable effort to obtain other childcare and requested time off or other accommodation from the employer and no reasonable accommodation was available.

Waiting period: Governor Walz’s executive order waives the non-payable or “waiting” week to ensure applicants have access to unemployment benefits as quickly as possible.

Work requirement: While all applicants for unemployment benefits must actively seek suitable employment, if you have only been laid off temporarily, you can meet work search requirements by staying in contact with your current employer.

Business owners: Governor Walz’s executive order waives the ordinary five-week benefit limitation for business owners who have become unemployed as a result of COVID-19.

Small Business Assistance: The Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development is recommending pandemic-impacted small businesses contact the Small Business Administration (SBA) disaster assistance customer service center at 1-800-659-2955 for the latest information on its Disaster Loan program. Small business guidance and loan resources can also be found on the SBA’s website: https://www.sba.gov.

Starting soon businesses can apply for SBA low interest loans: We care deeply about your business and are actively working with state and federal partners on measures to assist businesses through this unprecedented time.

DEED is regularly connecting with business leaders from around Minnesota to offer information, hear their questions and ensure we are doing all we can as quickly as we can.

U.S. Small Business Administration loans available soon: One way Minnesota businesses may be able to get assistance is through low-interest loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). Governor Walz has requested an Economic Injury Disaster Loan declaration, clearing the way for businesses to apply for loans to pay fixed debts, payroll, accounts payable and other bills that can’t be paid because of the disaster’s impact. If you have questions, please call the SBA hotline at 1-800-659-2955. We will share SBA loan application information as soon as it becomes available.

Sales tax grace period: Restaurants, bars and other businesses impacted by the temporary closures now have a 30-day grace period in paying sales and use tax, under a grace period announced yesterday by the Minnesota Department of Revenue. This means that affected businesses with a monthly Sales and Use Tax payment due March 20, 2020, will have until April 20 to make that payment. These customers should still file their return by March 20. Penalties or interest will not be assessed during the grace period. Find out more at the Minnesota Department of Revenue website.

Workplace health and safety: We know that many Minnesota businesses have taken extraordinary measures to offer telework, paid leave, and other options to their employees during this time of uncertainty. Businesses and employers can visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website for help with preparing for and responding to COVID-19.

The U.S. Department of Labor has developed some guidelines for how companies can prepare their workplace for COVID-19.

For information on protecting workers and slowing the spread of COVID-19, refer to guidance from the Minnesota Department of Health, measures include telling sick workers to stay home, offering remote work options and increasing space between workers on the job.

If you need to reduce workers’ hours: Employers experiencing a slowdown in their businesses or services as a result of the coronavirus impact on the economy may apply for the Unemployment Insurance Shared Work Program. This program allows employers to seek an alternative to layoffs – retaining their trained employees by reducing their hours and wages that can be partially offset with UI benefits. Workers of employers who are approved to participate in the Shared Work Program receive the percentage of their weekly UI benefit amount based on the percentage of hours and wages reduced, not to exceed 60 percent. Visit Shared Work Program to learn more about its benefits for employers and employees, and how to apply.

Unemployment Insurance information for employers: If your workers apply for unemployment benefits, we will let you know. Additional Unemployment Insurance information for employers affected by COVID-19

Lost business insurance coverage: Lost business income insurance is subject to the specific terms and conditions of your policy. Contact the broker or agent that sold the policy or your insurance company.

Ongoing updates: When we have more information, we will share it via email and social media, share it online on our COVID-19 Information for Employers page on the DEED site, and work to distribute it through media outlets.

Other resources for businesses, including recommendations for employers who may be laying off large numbers of employees or for those reducing workers’ hours, is available at: https://mn.gov/deed/newscenter/covid/employers.