IDES Issues Guidance to Educational Institutions regarding Recent Changes to Illinois Unemployment Law

Jun 29, 2020

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Written by John “Jack” Klinker and Todd K. Hayden

As noted in our previous publication, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, new legislation was recently passed amending the Illinois Unemployment Insurance Act. A significant—albeit temporary—change under this legislation opened the door for non-professional employees in academic settings to obtain unemployment insurance benefits during the 2020 summer break period, even if they have a reasonable assurance of continued employment in the next school year. The recently published “IDES Information Sheet for Educational Institutions,” elaborates on the new law.

The IDES’s information sheet notes that the change to the Unemployment Act is limited to the period from March 15, 2020, through January 2, 2021. This change does not apply to “professional academic employees”—namely instructional, principally administrative, or research employees—when they have a reasonable assurance of returning to their position when school resumes.

To notify IDES of professional academic employees who would not be eligible for unemployment benefits, institutions should complete an Academic Personnel Reporting form, available on the IDES website. An institution’s inclusion of its professional academic employees on this form eliminates the need to file a separate protest if an individual on the list applies for unemployment insurance benefits between terms. Institutions should file their Academic Personnel Reporting form within three (3) weeks of receiving the IDES information sheet, using IDES’s secure File Transfer Utility Tool given the confidential information it contains.

Regarding non-professional academic employees, the IDES’s information sheet notes that protests for these individuals based on the fact that they are between academic terms will not be adjudicated given the recent, temporary change in the law. However, IDES explains that institutions with non-professional employees receiving unemployment benefits under the recent change will not be charged for these benefits during the period from March 15, 2020, through January 2, 2021.  In that regard, taxable employers will not be charged for any of the benefits, while reimbursable employers will be charged for 50% – with the ability to seek federal reimbursement for that 50% amount.  

Whether other grounds exist to contest claims for unemployment by the non-professional employees should be assessed on an individual basis.  For example, it may still be proper to protest a claim if that individual was offered and refused other work during the period between academic terms. For assistance with the application of this guidance to your institution, please contact your Robbins Schwartz attorney.