Gov. McMaster: Furloughed employees qualify for unemployment benefits

Gov. McMaster: Furloughed employees qualify for unemployment benefits
The governor of South Carolina issued a new executive order Wednesday making all furloughed employees eligible for unemployment benefits. (Source: AP/CDC)

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - The governor of South Carolina issued a new executive order making all furloughed employees eligible for unemployment benefits.

Gov. Henry McMaster issued the order Wednesday as the state fights the coronavirus outbreak.

A furlough is different from a layoff in that furloughed employees don’t lose their jobs, but they are forced to take time off, mostly without pay.

Even if furloughed employees get a payment, or series of payments, from their company, that will not make them unable to apply for benefits under this new order.

The order directs the S.C. Department of Employment and Workforce (DEW) to consider any such payment to furloughed employees as severance pay. That means those employees will be eligible for unemployment benefits.

“Every day, our primary objective is to protect South Carolinians, but we also must act to protect the state’s economy,” McMaster said. “This order does both. It allows our businesses to take care of their employees as best as they can and will help our economy recover from this unprecedented time.”

South Carolina is currently under a ‘home or work’ order by the governor, which restricts residents’ activities to help stop the spread of the coronavirus.

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The governor has also closed non-essential businesses in two waves.

Many businesses have laid off or furloughed employees as a result of the pandemic.

“Our state’s workforce and employers have never faced a crisis of this magnitude,” said Sara Hazzard, President & CEO of the S.C. Manufacturers Alliance. “On behalf of our state’s manufacturing community and the more than 250,000 South Carolinians they employ, I want to thank Governor McMaster for issuing this Executive Order to provide flexibility for businesses to assist employees during this time of need.”

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