Just as 2020 drew to a close Gov. Asa Hutchinson signed executive order 20-54, which order provides relief to employers by excluding unemployment claims during the second quarter of 2020 in the calculation of employer UI tax rates.

“Keeping our businesses open and our economy thriving is a priority as we navigate through this season of uncertainty,” said Hutchinson. “I signed the executive order to help provide relief to Arkansas employers who have been hit hard during the pandemic and I look forward to working with our legislature to establish a solution to mitigate COVID-19 related charges beyond the second quarter of 2020.”

“The second quarter was the highest level of unemployment for Arkansans during the pandemic,” said Secretary of Commerce Mike Preston. “This action avoids a catastrophic increase in UI rates for employers already struggling with the effects of the pandemic. We are grateful that members of the legislature have expressed an interest in making statutory changes in the upcoming session to ensure this relief extends beyond the end of the pandemic.”

The executive order allows the Division of Workforce Services (DWS) to begin notifying employers of their 2021 tax rates. Statements will be distributed as soon as possible.

“I appreciate Governor Hutchinson and Secretary Preston for providing this solution to a major problem for small businesses in Arkansas,” said State Representative Jack Ladyman. “Without this, hundreds of small businesses in Arkansas would be devastated and possibly forced to close. I have committed to be the primary sponsor of a bill, to be presented in the 93rd General Assembly, to make this solution permanent.”

State Senator Missy Irvin and Rep. Michelle Gray agreed this step was necessary with Irvin saying it would “save employers from paying incredibly high rates due to the pandemic.”

Recommended for you