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The Official Web Site of the State of South Carolina

COVID-19 Resources for Employers

COVID Support Payments

On April 8, 2020, Governor Henry McMaster issued Executive Order 2020-22.  This order recognized that employers have been financially strained by the significant economic impacts associated with COVID-19.  As a result, businesses in our state have been compelled to place their employees on furlough (i.e., a temporary period of time during which an employee performs no personal services for the employer as a result of a layoff caused by the economic impacts of COVID-19). 

Despite these challenges, some employers have indicated a desire to offset the financial impacts of such furloughs by making voluntary COVID-19-related support payments (“COVID-19 Support Payments”) to employees who may also receive unemployment insurance (UI) benefits. The Governor’s Executive Order clears the way for employers – who choose to take advantage of this voluntary option – to make these COVID-19 Support Payments without such payments affecting their employees’ eligibility for UI benefits.

Employers that are considering issuing COVID-19 Support Payments in response to Executive Order 2020-22 must submit a plan to DEW prior to making such payments. Submitting a plan involves completing the form found here and submitting the completed form electronically to legal@dew.sc.gov

In this plan, employers will certify that the payments are made under certain conditions to ensure that the payments do not constitute “wages,” as that term is defined under South Carolina law.  These conditions are that:

  • The payment must be made in response to furloughing the employee
  • The payment must be for services rendered by the employee in the past
  • The employee (or the employee’s estate) must not be obligated to repay the payment under any circumstances
  • The payment must not obligate the employee to perform or not perform any act in connection with the individual’s status as an employee.

After submitting the plan, employers do not need to wait on specific approval from DEW in order to proceed with making COVID-19 Support Payments.  However, please understand that payments made without the necessary certifications or not in compliance with Executive Order 2020-22 may affect your employees’ eligibility for UI benefits.

Recall Taskforce

To help employers navigate questions as they reengage their workforce, the agency has created the Recall Taskforce. In addition to helping employers understand the different federal funding programs available to their workforce and the eligibility requirements of each one, the Recall Taskforce wants businesses who are reopening to know that their employees cannot refuse an offer for work without good cause if they wish to continue to collect unemployment insurance.

Individuals who have turned down offers of suitable work are not eligible to continue receiving UI benefits. If you have offered an individual a job and they refused, it is important for you to report the incident to DEW through your Employer Self Service Portal.

For the duration of the COVID-19 state of emergency, a disqualification may be imposed if DEW determines a written offer of suitable work was refused, regardless of whether it was sent to the claimant by registered mail, certified mail, U.S. Mail, email or text message. Whenever possible, employer should follow up with their employees via email, phone or text to confirm the offer was actually received. Supporting documentation will help DEW make the right decision in adjudicating recall issues.

The Refusal of Job Offer Guide provides screenshots and instructions to help you through the process.

Or you can submit an Offers of Work Form (UCB-261) to:

S.C. Department of Employment and Workforce
Attn: Offers of Work
P.O. Box 995
Columbia, SC 29202

Or, for 10 or more Offers of Work, you can request a spreadsheet by emailing Recall_Taskforce@dew.sc.gov.

This process ensures that only eligible individuals receive UI benefits and helps minimize tax rates for all businesses.

Reimbursable Employers

A reimbursable employer typically is a governmental agency or a nonprofit organization described under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. A reimbursable employer is required to pay back the UI fund on a dollar-for-dollar basis for all benefits paid to former employees.
 

The South Carolina Code of Law states that reimbursable employers can choose to pay the department using one of two methods.

Option One:

At the end of each calendar quarter, the department will bill reimbursable employers for the amount due.

Non-profit organizations must reimburse an amount equal to regular unemployment benefits paid plus 50 percent the amount of extended benefits paid to their former employees.

State and local governments must reimburse 100 percent of regular and extended benefits paid to their former employees.

Payment must be made no later than 30 days after the department mails the bill to the organization’s last known address.

All bills are final unless appealed within 15 days of the date listed on the document. If appealed, the department will conduct a hearing using facts to affirm, modify, or reverse its original ruling. All payments are due and payable until a decision is made, either modifying or reversing the amount due.

Appeals may be submitted by mail or fax using the information listed below.

Address:
S.C. Department of Employment and Workforce
Appeal Tribunal
P.O. Box 995
Columbia, SC 29202

For more information on the appeals process in general, visit Appeals Information for Employers or contact the Appellate Division at 803-737-2520.

Option Two:

The organization may pay two percent of its quarterly taxable payroll to the department within 30 days after the end of the each quarter.

The department will apply those funds to any outstanding balance owed. At the end of each calendar year, the department will determine whether total payments for the year are less or more than what is owed.

Each organization, whose total payments for the year are less than the amount due, is liable for the unpaid balance.

If total payments exceed the amount owed for the year, all or a part of the excess funds may be refunded or kept as credit toward future payments.

2021 Employer Tax Rates

The 2021 tax rates for businesses will remain unchanged from their 2020 levels due to legislative action in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. For 2021 there will be no solvency surcharge imposed.

The tax rates applicable for wages paid between January 1, 2021 and December 31, 2021 are here. An Annual Tax Rate Notice detailing individual rates was distributed to each employer November 13, 2020. Individual rates are based on an employer’s computed benefit ratio. The tax class assignment in the notice should be used for the full calendar year. Please note that tax rates are applicable to the first $14,000 each employee earns.

Although tax rates for each tax class are frozen at their 2020 levels, individual businesses may still move between classes based on their unemployment claim activity that was prior to the pandemic and/or not COVID-19 related.

All businesses with charges against their accounts are provided a “charge statement” quarterly to review and have 30 days to protest any charges they do not believe should be on their account.

Learn more about 2021 Employer Tax Rates.

 

An Equal Opportunity Employer/Program.
Auxiliary aids and services available upon request to individuals with disabilities at ADA@dew.sc.gov.
To report fraud, waste, abuse, mismanagement or misconduct, call the State Inspector General at 855-723-7283 or visit oig.sc.gov.