Our PSRPs, from teacher assistants to school clerks, are the heartbeat of our schools — yet for years, our PSRPs have been treated as an afterthought by CPS. That’s why I’m proud to announce that last Friday, Governor Pritzker signed a bill into law that extends last summer’s emergency COVID state unemployment insurance statute through September 4, 2021 — making most of our PSRPs eligible for unemployment benefits over this summer. Typically, PSRPs are NOT eligible for summer unemployment compensation, but this one-time pandemic relief measure has now been expanded to apply to this summer, too. See Section 15D on page 11 of the bill at this link.
We fought hard for this bill in Springfield, just as we fought hard — and successfully — for laws that restore our bargaining rights and at last give Chicagoans what the rest of the people of Illinois already have: an elected, representative school board.
Read on below for more information from the Illinois Federation of Teachers (IFT) about this extended benefit, and please make sure you share with any PSRPs in your school communities. Our PSRPs are the anchors of our buildings, and we’re proud to continue to fight for them in Springfield as we seek to bring more humane policies to our school communities.
Christel Williams Hayes
Chicago Teachers Union
Temporary unemployment benefit for paraprofessionals this summer
On June 25, Governor Pritzker signed into law legislation which allows non-instructional and non-administrative employees of schools, colleges, and universities to qualify for unemployment again this summer. This means that many IFT PSRPs who work as custodians, teacher aides, cafeteria workers, bus drivers, clerical workers, and in other non-teaching positions can receive unemployment during the summer months if they are not working or are unable to find a job.
This is a change from the prior law, which did not allow employees with regular nine or 10 month non-instructional positions to qualify for unemployment over the summer if the employee had not been laid off from their job and if the employee had “a reasonable expectation of continued employment” in the fall.
The IFT supports this legislation as a response to the Coronavirus pandemic. It will remain in effect through September 4, 2021.
In the coming days, your union will be working with the Illinois Department of Employment Security (IDES), which manages unemployment benefits, to see that applications are processed in a timely manner. Additionally, the IFT will be developing an FAQ and talking points for leaders like you who will be responding to questions from members.
PSRP members who are non-instructional and non-administrative and do not work at their school, college, or university over the summer. However, they may not be eligible for unemployment during any week that they turn down work offered by their educational employer (such as summer school duties that they are qualified for).
When is this benefit available?
The benefit if available immediately and is retroactive to the first day of unemployment after the 2020-21 school year. The benefit will be available until September 4, 2021.
What if a PSRP receives deferred pay over the summer?
If a PSRP receives “summer paychecks” because the employer spreads out their pay for work completed during the school year, the individual still qualifies for unemployment under this law. If a PSRP is receiving wages over a 12-month period but does not perform job duties during the summer months or vacation breaks, this individual is not considered to have “worked” during those times, even if they may be receiving a paycheck.
How do I apply?
Please contact your Field Rep with questions.