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Losing Hours at Work Due to Omicron? Here’s What to Do

Losing Hours at Work Due to Omicron? Here's What to Do
Written by Publishing Team

Frustrated young man puts his hand to his face while holding his phone and looking at his laptop.

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It’s a situation that is becoming more and more common due to the outbreak.


the main points

  • COVID-19 cases are rising again, driven by the omicron variable.
  • You may be entitled to unemployment benefits if you lose enough working time due to an outbreak.

Unfortunately, we are starting 2022 in a very bad place in terms of the COVID-19 outbreak. The omicron variant has increased the number of cases nationwide, and after the holiday season, we can see those numbers increase.

This is problematic on a number of levels. If a lot of the workforce is out due to omicron, it could lead to the disruption of essential services, from supermarkets to schools. It could also hamper our broad economic recovery.

On a personal level, an omicron can end up making a mess of your schedule — and your income. Even if you don’t get sick with COVID-19, if you’re repeatedly exposed at work, you may have to stay home for several days until a negative test confirms you’re safe to return. You may not be eligible for compensation in these situations.

Furthermore, staffing issues due to omicron are leading some companies to proactively cut back hours. If this happens in your workplace, your hours – and income – may be cut short, even if you yourself are not dealing with a diagnosis or exposure to COVID-19.

Either way, it’s important to have a game plan in place in case you experience a loss of income in the near term due to the COVID-19 situation. Here’s what you need to know.

You may qualify for unemployment

You do not need to be completely unemployed to qualify for unemployment benefits. If your working hours are drastically reduced, you may be entitled to unemployment, so it wouldn’t hurt to file a claim. Usually, though, you need to lose at least half of your weekly income to qualify in most states, so if your working hours are reduced from 40 weeks to 32, you may not qualify.

Another thing you should know is that if you are self-employed and your income is hurting due to the COVID-19 outbreak, you will not be eligible for unemployment benefits at this point. Earlier in the pandemic, benefits were extended to the self-employed, but that program has since ended.

You may need to rethink your spending

Right now, the United States is experiencing a massive wave of COVID-19 cases. But health experts are already saying the Omicron wave may peak by the end of January, and hopefully things will improve from there.

However, you may continue to work for a difficult month or two in relation to your income. The best thing to do right now is to assess your financial situation. Prepare a budget that lists your current expenses and see if there are any that you can cut back. Freeing up as much cash as possible can help you get by if your income drops for a few weeks.

Also take a look at your savings account balance. If you have some money set aside for emergencies, you may have the option of taking the plunge and covering some of the bills in case you don’t have a full paycheck.

You can also reach out to your landlord, utility companies, or car loan provider and see if you can have some freedom in paying your bills. If you make it clear that you’re dealing with what will hopefully be a temporary reduction in working hours, you may get some flexibility.

It is unfortunate that things have deteriorated on the COVID-19 front. If you’re financially impacted now, it’s important to get over the problem before you end up in debt due to lost work time.

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