Gov. Jared Polis (D-CO) has opened up unemployment benefits for all federal employees working without pay in the state as the government shutdown carries on.
“I have authorized an emergency rule that makes unpaid federal workers eligible for unemployment benefits, whether they are reporting for work or not,” Polis said in a Friday statement. “Many federal employees can’t afford to go without a paycheck for a month or longer—Congress needs to re-open the government, but in the meantime, our state will do everything we can to help Coloradans.”
Prior to his announcement, only furloughed workers were eligible for unemployment benefits, since the law requires people to be out of work, not just working without pay, to qualify. Polis’ office said that 2,416 furloughed workers had already taken advantage of unemployment benefits, according to Colorado Politics.
Under Polis’ emergency rule, essential employees who have been working without pay, such as TSA agents or IRS workers, can now apply for unemployment benefits.
“Those federal employees who are required to report for work are feeling the same economic squeeze as those who have been furloughed,” Polis said. “They should not be denied the immediate financial assistance provided by unemployment benefits while being mandated to show up to work.”
Colorado Politics notes that workers who do qualify for unemployment benefits but receive retroactive pay when the government reopens will be required to pay back the state. There are approximately 15,000 federal workers in the state who are either furloughed or working without pay, and all of them can now qualify for unemployment.
“We’re doing this because it’s the right thing to do,” Polis said in a second statement Friday night. “To be clear, this isn’t the solution, this is a band aid—hardworking federal employees aren’t being paid and have real-life expenses. I call upon Sen. Michael Bennet, Sen. Cory Gardner, and the members of our House delegation to end this ridiculous shutdown now.”
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