Unemployment Benefits for Workers Impacted by Coronavirus in DC, Maryland, Virginia

Benefit claim process in Maryland, Virginia and D.C

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Workers are facing financial hardship as businesses either shut down or reduce their hours over the coronavirus. Unemployment offices in D.C. Maryland and Virginia are expanding their eligibility for unemployment benefits thanks to emergency legislation.

Below is a breakdown of information based on region:


The D.C. Council unanimously passed a bill on Tuesday expanding the response to the coronavirus pandemic by expanding eligibility for unemployment insurance to workers who have been laid off or lost hours and extending the protections under the Family Leave and Medical Act. The Unemployment Insurance Guideline explains that employers in the District of Columbia are required to pay employees for illness under the Accrued Sick and Safe Leave Act.

Who is eligible to file a claim?

  • An employee (any individual employed by an employer)
  • A spouse or domestic partner
  • The parents of either the employee or the spouse
  • Children, including grandchildren and foster children
  • Brothers and sisters of either the employee or spouse
  • A residing child for whom the employee has parental responsibility
  • A person who has co-habituated with the employee for no less than 12 months

Employees Not Covered

  • Independent contractors
  • Students
  • Healthcare workers who choose to participate in a premium pay program
  • Volunteers who work in non-profit organizations, charitable, religious or educational establishments
  • Appointed or elected lay members engaged in religious functions in any religious organization
  • Employees in the construction or building industry covered by a bona fide collective bargaining agreement
  • Casual babysitters

Workers can apply for unemployment insurance on the Department of Employment Services website.


Governor Ralph Northam announced several protective actions for Virginians affected by the outbreak. The one-week waiting period will be waived to ensure worker benefits will be provided quickly. An increased number of workers will be eligible, including those directed to self-quarantine if they don’t have paid leave from their employer. Workers that must stay home to care for a family member without paid leave are also covered. There will also be fewer restrictions on workers applying for unemployment insurance.

The governor’s office has a frequently asked questions guide for workers that have been temporarily laid off because of the coronavirus. 

Unemployment claims can be filed with the Virginia Employment Commission once a worker has been unemployed for a full day. Employees with reduced hours can also apply for a maximum weekly benefit of $378. To be eligible for benefits claimants must

One eligibility is determined a payment will be processed after the first week of claims.


Workers in Maryland are directed to use their employer-paid time off first. The Maryland Healthy Working Families Act requires employers with 15 or more employees to provide paid sick and safe leave.

Lawmakers in Maryland passed an emergency declaration on Wednesday extending benefits to people who lose their jobs related to the coronavirus. It allows the state to extend benefits over risk of exposure or the need to care for a sick relative.

A worker is eligible to file for unemployment if they lost their job through no fault of their own. People who are sick are not eligible. However, some who are ordered by a medical professional to isolate may qualify.

Claims can be filed through the state labor department’s website or by phone.

A list of frequently asked questions has been posted to the Department of Labor website.

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