Unemployment Benefits and Paid Leave

Part of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, the Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act and the Emergency Family Medical Leave Act  are currently being established through the U.S. Department of Labor to help U.S. workers who have lost their jobs or cannot work for reasons related to the COVID-19 pandemic.  The new laws support U.S. workers by extending unemployment and paid leave benefits, including two weeks of guaranteed paid sick leave for workers who have COVID-19.

What should I do if I’m unemployed during the COVID-19 pandemic?

Texans who have lost their jobs due to COVID-19 crisis can apply for unemployment benefits either online at: Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) or by phone at: 800-939-6631.

  • Even if you are a contract worker or self-employed and you have lost work due to COVID-19, you can apply for unemployment benefits.
  • Even if you are seeking part-time employment, you can apply for unemployment benefits.
  • Work search requirements and the 1-week waiting period to file a claim are being waived during this time period.

What if I become sick with COVID-19 and I can’t work?

The Emergency Paid Sick Leave Act provides benefits for all covered employees (those who have been employed for at least 30 days).   You could receive 2 weeks (10 days) of paid sick leave, up to full pay if you become sick with COVID-19.  You could get up to  2/3 pay for 10 days if you are caring for a family member who becomes sick with COVID-19 or a child out of school or regular day care.  

**PAID SICK LEAVE  applies only to employers with less than 500 employees, multiemployer collective agreements, and most government employees can get the two weeks of paid leave.  

What if I can’t work because my child is home from school?

You can get up to 3 months of 2/3 paid leave for covered workers who are employed but are unable to work due to their child being out of school or regular day care or who cannot work because of an order to stay home.  Apply for paid leave by requesting it in writing from the employer.

Learn more about COVID-19 Unemployment and Paid Leave benefits at: https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/pandemic/ffcra-employee-paid-leave or https://www.dol.gov/coronavirus


Lone Star Legal Aid is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit law firm focused on advocacy on behalf of low-income and underserved populations. Lone Star Legal Aid serves millions of people at 125% of federal poverty guidelines that reside in 72 counties in the eastern and Gulf Coast regions of Texas, and 4 counties of southwest Arkansas. Lone Star Legal Aid focuses its resources on maintaining, enhancing, and protecting income and economic stability; preserving housing; improving outcomes for children; establishing and sustaining family safety and stability, health and well‐being; and assisting populations with special vulnerabilities, like those who have disabilities, or who are elderly, homeless, or have limited English language skills. To learn more about Lone Star Legal Aid, visit our website at www.lonestarlegal.org.

Media contact: Clarissa Ayala, cayala@lonestarlegal.org