Losing hours at work because of Omicron? Here is what to do


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This is a situation that is becoming more and more common given the state of the epidemic.

Key points

  • COVID-19 cases are skyrocketing again, fueled by the omicron variant.
  • You may be entitled to unemployment benefits if you have lost enough time from work due to the epidemic.

Sadly, we’re starting 2022 in a bad place when it comes to the COVID-19 outbreak. The omicron variant has fueled an increase in the number of cases nationwide, and after the holiday season we could see those numbers increase.

This is problematic on several levels. If too much of the workforce is absent because of the omicron, it could lead to disruption of basic services from supermarkets to schools. And it could also hamper our broad economic recovery.

On a personal level, omicron could end up wreaking havoc on your schedule and income. Even if you don’t get sick with COVID-19, if you are repeatedly exposed at work, you may be required to stay home for several days until a negative test confirms you can come back safely. security. And you might not be entitled to compensation in these situations.

In addition, staff problems caused by omicron are leading some companies to reduce their hours in a preventive manner. If this happens in your workplace, your hours – and income – may be reduced, even if you aren’t facing a diagnosis or exposure to COVID-19.

Either way, it’s important to have a game plan in case you end up experiencing short-term income loss due to the COVID-19 situation. Here is what you need to know.

You may be eligible for unemployment

You do not need to be fully unemployed to be entitled to unemployment benefits. If your hours are drastically reduced, you might qualify for unemployment, so it wouldn’t hurt to file a claim. Typically, however, you must lose at least half of your weekly income to qualify in most states. Therefore, if your hours are reduced from 40 to 32 hours per week, you may not be eligible.

Another thing you need to know is that if you are self-employed and your income is affected due to the COVID-19 outbreak, you will not be entitled to unemployment benefits at this point. Earlier in the pandemic, benefits were extended to the self-employed, but that program has since lapsed.

You may need to rethink your spending

Right now, the United States is experiencing a massive spate of COVID-19 cases. But health experts are already saying the omicron wave could peak by the end of January, and hopefully things will improve from there.

Still, you can be tough in a month or two when it comes to your income. The best thing to do now is to assess your financial situation. Create a budget that lists your existing expenses and see if there are any that you can reduce. Freeing up as much money as possible might help you get by if your income is cut for a few weeks.

Also take a look at your savings account balance. If you have money set aside for emergencies, you may have the option of drawing down and covering some bills in the absence of a full paycheck.

You can also contact your landlord, utility companies, or the auto loan department and see if you can have some leeway in paying your bills. If you explain that you are dealing with what hopefully is a temporary reduction in working hours, you can gain some flexibility.

It is unfortunate that things have deteriorated on the COVID-19 front. If you are now financially affected, it is important to anticipate the problem before you find yourself in debt due to lost time from work.

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