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Unemployment Benefits for COVID-19 in North Carolina

Riddle Brantley LLP   |  March 19, 2020   |  

PLEASE BE AWARE: Riddle & Brantley does NOT handle employment law matters. We are providing this information to help North Carolinians understand new unemployment requirements specific to COVID-19, however we cannot assist with employment matters except for workers’ compensation for workplace injuries. These resources are only provided as a helpful guide.

UPDATE: For the latest on unemployment benefits available to North Carolinians during the COVID-19 pandemic, please visit our North Carolina coronavirus unemployment page.



Governor Roy Cooper has taken steps to make filing for unemployment easier for North Carolina workers affected by the economic downturn associated with the coronavirus / COVID-19 outbreak.

The governor’s order will expand unemployment benefits to workers affected by the health crisis by:

  • Removing the one-week waiting period to apply for benefits
  • Removing the requirement that a person must look for another job during this time
  • Allowing employees who have either lost their job or had their hours reduced due to the COVID-19 outbreak to apply for unemployment benefits

The governor’s order means that North Carolinians who have lost their jobs as a result of the pandemic may now list COVID-19 as the reason for unemployment in applying for benefits from the NC Department of Employment Security.

Earlier this week, the NCDES reported that more than 5,000 people had already filed for unemployment benefits due to COVID-19.

Unemployment Benefits for COVID-19 Coronavirus in North Carolina - Riddle & BrantleyThe expansion of unemployment benefits was part of a broader order in which Governor Cooper mandated that restaurants and bars close for dine-in customers. Designed to reduce North Carolinians’ exposure and prevent “community spread” of the virus, the order to close restaurants and bars for dine-in service has been controversial.

Governor Cooper acknowledged that the steps taken to protect public health against COVID-19 would result in job losses.

“I recognize this decision will cost people their jobs, so this order also brings them some relief,” he said in a tweet. “Today I am taking down some of the barriers to unemployment benefits in response to this unprecedented health crisis.”

In addition to restaurants and bars affected by the order, many North Carolina businesses have reduced hours or closed entirely as a result of the economic downturn caused by the pandemic.

Major Job Losses Expected

In a recent briefing to senators on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and the administration laid out a worst case scenario in which United States unemployment could hit 20 percent as a result of the outbreak.

The first of several anticipated coronavirus stimulus packages passed this week on a bipartisan basis. The measure includes free testing, paid sick leave for certain workers, and increased funding for food assistance programs. Lawmakers are negotiating additional stimulus measures, which may include direct cash payments to American citizens and direct subsidies or “bridge loans” to businesses affected by the recession.

The federal government’s response to the coronavirus pandemic could total $1 trillion or more.

Have you been laid off or had your hours reduced due to the outbreak in North Carolina?

UPDATE: For the latest on unemployment benefits available to North Carolinians during the COVID-19 pandemic, please visit our North Carolina coronavirus unemployment page.

Coronavirus and COVID-19 Unemployment Benefits in North Carolina - Riddle & BrantleyUnemployment benefits may be available to you.

North Carolinians can now list COVID-19 as the reason for unemployment on their applications for benefits.

For more information on unemployment benefits available in North Carolina due to COVID-19 and recently waived requirements, please visit the North Carolina Department of Employment Security’s COVID-19 updates page.

Riddle & Brantley fully supports the government’s efforts to reduce the economic impact on North Carolina workers due to the coronavirus outbreak. The health, safety and well-being of our clients and fellow North Carolinians are our top priorities.

To learn more about steps our firm is taking to protect our clients and staff from COVID-19, please visit our blog.