OVERVIEW OF MISSISSIPPI UNEMPLOYMENT COMPENSATION
The guidance offered here is for informational purposes only and should not be considered legal advice. Only the Mississippi Department of Employment Security (MDES) can make determinations regarding entitlement to Mississippi unemployment compensation. When in doubt, you should file an unemployment claim with MDES and obtain a determination of eligibility.
Mississippi Unemployment Compensation in General
To receive Mississippi unemployment benefits, you must be an employee, you must be monetarily eligible, you must meet the other eligibility requirements, and you must not be disqualified or excluded.
As noted in a prior update, in certain circumstances an individual may be eligible for federal unemployment benefits even if they are not eligible for state benefits. The guidance in this section on Mississippi Unemployment Compensation relates only to eligibility for state unemployment benefits.
The second section, “CARES Act Unemployment Summary,” provides an overview of federal unemployment benefits.
Who Is An Employee
There are several factors MDES looks at to determine if you are an employee.
Generally, you are an employee if the person for whom you are performing the services has the right to control and directs the manner of your work. If they don’t just tell you what to do, but how to do it, you’re an employee.
If they just give you goals or objectives and you determine how that is to be accomplished, you are likely an independent contractor, not an employee.
Another important factor is whether the person you’re doing the work for has the right to discharge you; if they do, you’re likely an employee.
An additional important factor is whether the person you’re doing the work for furnishes you the tools and equipment and workplace or whether you furnish those yourself. If you furnish them, you’re likely not an employee.
Generally, physicians, lawyers, dentists, veterinarians, contractors, subcontractors, public stenographers, auctioneers, and others who follow an independent trade, business, or profession, in which they offer their services to the public, are independent contractors and not employees.
Additionally, the proprietors of or partners in a business are not considered employees for unemployment purposes.
Total unemployment versus part total unemployment
Total unemployment: Most people understand that they are considered totally unemployed if they are not working at all. Mississippi law is consistent with this understanding. “An individual is considered totally unemployed during any week in which they perform no services and in which no wages are payable to him or her.” MDES Regulation 313.00 (emphasis added).
Part total unemployment: In certain circumstances, an employee is considered unemployed if their hours are reduced, but they are still working.
You can be considered part unemployed for a given week based on the number of hours you worked and the amount you earned. MDES Regulation 313.00. Follow these steps to determine if you are considered “part total unemployed” for a given week.
Step 1. Analyze your hours. If you worked more than 35 hours per week, then you are not considered part total unemployed and are considered a full time employee. If you work less than 35 hours in a week, you may be considered “part total unemployed.” Go to Step 2. MDES Regulation 313.00.
Step 2. Calculate your weekly benefit amount. If you worked less than 35 hours in a week, you must compare your wages for that week to the weekly benefit amount you would receive to determine if you are part total unemployed.
Your weekly benefit amount is 1/26th of your total wages paid in the quarter of the “base period” where your wages were highest. The base period is the first four quarters of the last five full quarters you filed for benefits. However, the maximum weekly benefit amount is $235.00.
Step 3. Compare your weekly benefit to your wages. You are considered part totally unemployed for that week if your wages are less than your weekly benefit amount plus forty dollars ($ 40.00). MDES Regulation 313.00.
Example. You worked 34 hours for a week and earned wages of $276.00. The maximum weekly benefit amount is $235.00, plus $40.00 totals $275.00. Your hours are less than 35. However, because your wages of $276.00 exceed $275.00, you do NOT qualify as part total employed.
To qualify monetarily the individual must have wages in insured work in the base period equal to forty (40) times that individual’s weekly benefit amount, must have been paid wages in insured work during at least two (2) quarters of the base period, and have no less than $780 in at least one base period quarter.
Other eligibility requirements:
A claimant must also satisfy each of the following eligibility requirements (except those that have been suspended during the COVID-19 emergency as noted below):
File a claim for unemployment insurance benefits
File Weekly Certifications each week he/she is totally or part – total unemployed;
Participate in reemployment services as defined by MDES;
Be eligible for unemployment insurance benefits and unemployed for a waiting period of one (1) week during each benefit year; (IN EXECUTIVE ORDER 1462, THE GOVERNOR SUSPENDED THE ONE-WEEK WAITING PERIOD FOR CLAIMS FOR UNEMPLOYMENT DUE TO COVID-19)
Be able to work. Unemployment insurance benefits are not paid to those individuals who are not able to work; and
Be available for work. The individual must remain in the labor market, must make a reasonable effort to secure work, and must be willing to accept suitable work when offered. Unemployment insurance benefits are not paid to an individual who removes himself from the labor market and does not choose to work. (IN EXECUTIVE ORDER 1462, THE GOVERNOR SUSPENDED ALL WORK SEARCH REQUIREMENTS FOR UNEMPLOYMENT CLAIMS RELATED TO COVID-19)
An employee who is monetarily eligible and who meets the other eligibility requirements may, nevertheless, be disqualified.
You will be disqualified and not eligible in any of the following circumstances:
You voluntarily left work without good cause.
You were discharged due to misconduct.
You make a false statement or a false representation of facts, or willfully fail to disclose a material fact for the purpose of obtaining or increasing benefits.
You fail without good cause to either apply for available, suitable work when directed by MDES or fail to accept an offer of suitable work. (IN EXECUTIVE ORDER 1462, THE GOVERNOR SUSPENDED ALL WORK SEARCH REQUIREMENTS FOR UNEMPLOYMENT CLAIMS RELATED TO COVID-19)
You are unemployed because you participated in a labor dispute that caused a work stoppage (subject to certain exceptions).
Certain types of service are excluded from the definition of employment under the Mississippi Employment Security Law.
The following is a partial list of excluded services. Services performed:
in the employ of a church;
in the employ of certain religious organizations;
by ordained or licensed ministers;
by public elected officials;
as a member of a legislative body;
as a member of the judiciary of a state or political subdivision;
as a member of the State National Guard or Air National Guard;
as an employee of a governmental entity serving on a temporary basis due to a natural disaster;
in certain governmental policy-making or advisory positions;
in certain facilities in a program for individuals performing rehabilitative or remunerative work;
by an inmate of a custodial or penal institution;
as a part of an unemployment work-relief or work-training program;
as casual labor, not in the usual course of an employer’s business;
by an individual in the employ of his/her son, or daughter, or spouse;
by an individual under the age of 21 in the employ of his/her father or mother;
under the Railroad Unemployment Insurance Act;
in the employ of a school by a student or the spouse of a student under certain conditions;
by an individual who is a student at a nonprofit or public institution, is under the age of 22, and is enrolled in a program which combines academic instruction with work experience;
by a patient of a hospital for that hospital;
by a student nurse or an intern in certain cases;
by an insurance agent or solicitor if remuneration is solely by way of commission;
by an individual under the age of 18 in the distribution of newspapers;
by a barber or beautician leasing a workstation and compensated solely by patrons he/she serves and is free from direction and control by the lessor;
by a real estate agent if remuneration is solely by way of commission.
CARES ACT UNEMPLOYMENT SUMMARY
The guidance offered here is for informational purposes only and should not be considered legal advice. The CARES Act delegates administration of the unemployment benefits it provides to the state unemployment agency. Thus, only the Mississippi Department of Employment Security (MDES) can make determinations regarding entitlement to unemployment compensation under the CARES Act. When in doubt, you should file an unemployment claim with MDES and obtain a determination of eligibility.
There are two broad categories of persons who will be eligible for federal unemployment benefits, which will be administered by the Mississippi Department of Employment Security (MDES). Persons who are
eligible for regular state unemployment benefits will also qualify for federal benefits. Certain persons who do NOT qualify for regular state unemployment benefits and whose unemployment is linked to COVID-19 will be also eligible for federal benefits.
Persons who are otherwise eligible for unemployment benefits pursuant to state law (CARES Act §2104, Emergency Increase in Unemployment Compensation Benefits).
• For persons who are otherwise eligible for state unemployment compensation, in addition to the state unemployment benefits, the Act provides up to $600 per week of federal unemployment benefits. These benefits are available through July 31, 2020.
• Individuals who exhaust these benefits may be eligible for payments in the same amount for 13 additional weeks under the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) provisions of §2107.
Certain Persons who do NOT qualify for regular state unemployment benefits and whose unemployment is linked to COVID-19 may also be eligible for federal benefits. (CARES Act §2102, Pandemic Unemployment Assistance).
• An individual who is not eligible for regular unemployment compensation (UC), extended benefits (EB) under state or federal law, or the 13 weeks of PEUC, may collect Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) under section 2102 if they meet certain requirements.
• This includes independent contractors, self-employed workers, gig workers, etc.
• The duration of these benefits is limited to 39 weeks, minus any weeks that the individual may have received from regular UC and EB.
• The amount of these benefits is $600 per week, plus the weekly state unemployment compensation benefit amount.
• Individuals are eligible if they provide self-certification that the individual is otherwise able to work and available for work within the meaning of applicable State law, except the individual is unemployed, partially unemployed, or unable or unavailable to work because—
the individual has been diagnosed with COVID–19 or is experiencing symptoms of COVID–19 and seeking a medical diagnosis;
a member of the individual’s household has been diagnosed with COVID–19;
the individual is providing care for a family member or a member of the individual’s household who has been diagnosed with COVID–19;
a child or other person in the household for which the individual has primary caregiving responsibility is unable to attend school or another facility that is closed as a direct result of the COVID–19 public health emergency and such school or facility care is required for the individual to work;
the individual is unable to reach the place of employment because of a
quarantine imposed as a direct result of the COVID–19 public health emergency;
the individual is unable to reach the place of employment because the individual has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine due to concerns related to COVID–19;the individual was
scheduled to commence employment and does not have a job or is unable to reach the job as a direct result of the COVID–19 public health emergency;
the individual has become the breadwinner or major support for a household because the head of the household has died as a direct result of COVID–19;
the individual has to quit his or her job as a direct result of COVID–19;
the individual’s place of employment is closed as a direct result of the COVID–19 public health emergency; OR
the individual meets any additional criteria established by the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services for unemployment assistance under this section;
• An individual who meets one of the eleven (11) conditions above may also be eligible if the individual provides self-certification that he or she is self-employed, is seeking parttime employment, does not have sufficient work history, or otherwise would not qualify for regular unemployment or extended benefits under State or Federal law or PEUC under section 2107.
• However, if you have the ability to telework with pay, you will NOT be eligible for federal unemployment benefits under the CARES Act.
• Additionally, if you are receiving paid sick leave or other paid leave benefits, you will NOT be eligible for federal unemployment benefits under the CARES Act, even if you meet one of the eleven (11) ways of qualifying above.
The plan for the $600 benefit under the CARES Act
We have received many questions from you regarding when the $600 federal unemployment benefit will be received.
MDES is not yet in a position to confirm the date these federal benefits will be distributed.
The federal government just issued regulatory guidance in the last few days, so it is going to take MDES time to review these guidelines and make sure they follow them as mandated by the federal government.
In practical terms, this means that the lawyers have to study and understand the federal guidelines, they then have to give the department guidance on how to implement the federal guidelines, and then MDES has to give the IT personnel time to figure out how to program the computer system to implement the federal benefit.
Obviously, they do not know how long this will take, so they cannot make a projection as to when the benefits will be forthcoming.
MDES’ plan is to first process the $600 benefit to those who definitely qualify for state unemployment benefits, because the federal government issued guidance on the implementation of this portion of the CARES Act.
Then, secondly, they plan to process the claims for those who do not qualify for the state benefit, but who may qualify for the federal benefit.
Update on number of cases.
177 new cases reported yesterday.
Total cases statewide now number 1,915.
Unfortunately, we now have 59 deaths.
38 long-term care facilities around the state report active cases
Call if you need help.
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We have also set up an email address for you to ask questions or seek help. That address is firstname.lastname@example.org.