PHOENIX — Governor Doug Ducey today signed S.B. 1694, legislation to expand access to unemployment benefits for Arizonans affected by COVID-19 by waiving certain Arizona Department of Economic Security (DES) eligibility requirements. The legislation, which was sponsored by Senate President Karen Fann and House Speaker Rusty Bowers, passed the Arizona Legislature on March 23 with unanimous support.
“Arizona will continue to provide support to those in need while we combat the spread of COVID-19,” said Governor Ducey. “This legislation will waive certain requirements for unemployment eligibility, giving hardworking Arizonans the helping hand they need while we get through this difficult time. My sincere thanks to Senate President Fann, Speaker Bowers and members of the Arizona Legislature for working to support our fellow Arizonans.”
The legislation will make more Arizonans eligible for unemployment benefits during the outbreak. It also aligns Arizona eligibility requirements with federal guidance for individuals and employers directly affected by COVID-19. While Unemployment Insurance is typically only available to individuals who have lost their job, this bill expands eligibility to individuals in the following situations:
Individuals who are not receiving wages due to their workplace closing due to COVID-19 — even if the individual intends to go back to work when the business reopens;
Individuals who are following directives to self-quarantine and intend to return to work;
And individuals who leave employment to care for a family member.
This legislation applies retroactively to March 10, 2020.
On March 20, 2020, Governor Ducey issued an Executive Order to ensure those who are out of work or facing economic hardship because of COVID-19 have access to unemployment benefits. The order takes action such as waiving the one-week waiting period after an employee loses a job before they apply for unemployment benefits and waiving work search requirements for those receiving unemployment benefits.
View the Executive Order HERE.
Earlier this week, the Governor announced efforts to expand federal food assistance programs in Arizona to allow the purchase of hot meals with these benefits and result in timelier approval of eligibility. Governor Ducey issued an Executive Order requiring health care insurance companies to expand telemedicine coverage for all services that would normally be covered for an in-person visit. The order helps ensure that Arizonans who may be sick or under quarantine can access care from their homes and avoid potentially risky trips to a health care provider.