On December 22nd, Governor Ralph Northam announced temporary changes to the Commonwealth's Unemployment Insurance (UI) program that will support Virginia workers and businesses whose livelihoods have been affected by the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.
Executive Order Seventy-Four requires the Virginia Employment Commission (VEC) to mitigate a potential rise in the UI experience rating tax for businesses by holding them harmless for lay-offs that occurred during the pandemic. The temporary change will protect Virginia businesses from having to pay an additional $200 million to replenish the Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund. The Governor is also directing the VEC to begin automatically distributing UI benefits to unemployed Virginians who have been held in the agency's determination process.
Governor Northam signed the special session budget that included $210 million to backfill the Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund, which is currently borrowing federal dollars to pay out benefits. In addition, to improve customer service, the Governor's budget proposal includes nearly $15 million to support technology upgrades and additional customer service staff at the VEC.