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Protesting Issues of Unemployment Insurance Eligibility
5 Issues That Might Save You Money
During the process of protesting an unemployment claim for our clients, we often discuss not only why the individual is no longer employed, but issues that may impact the claimant’s eligibility for unemployment insurance (UI) benefits. We’re often asked, what is the difference?
The difference can mean thousands of dollars in liability savings.
The traditional method of avoiding unemployment charges is through a disqualification associated with the claimant’s separation from work. A disqualification is permanent unless the claimant meets certain criteria. This usually means they must earn “lifting wages” in subsequent employment, or serve a prescribed number of weeks of disqualification. Unless reversed at a later appeal stage, the employer will avoid having their account charged.
Issues of eligibility are different from a disqualification. These issues are usually temporary in nature and only impact a claimant’s ability to collect unemployment for a brief period.
One of the most common is called Able and Available for Employment. This is the fundamental basis for eligibility for UI benefits. If a claimant cannot show that they are able and available for full time employment, they are ineligible to collect benefits until they meet this requirement.
Many eligibility issues are outside the control of the employer, but you can still raise them as an issue to be adjudicated. Even if the issue of separation is going to result in the claimant receiving benefits, raising an issue of eligibility can still save you some money!
Common issues of UI eligibility that an employer can impact are varied. Some of the most common issues are:
- Payout of Vacation or Holiday Pay at SeparationWhen a claimant is separated and they receive a payout of Paid Time Off (PTO), this can be reported to the state. This payout will delay the UI payment until the PTO payout has ceased to be paid.
- Severance PayOther than the “Able and Available” issue, this one has the most profound effect on a claimant’s ability to collect unemployment. Most states have implemented procedures to deduct severance pay from a claimant’s UI benefit. In some cases, benefits will be disallowed until the severance pay has concluded.
- Wages EarnedWhen a claimant is still considered employed, but working a reduced schedule, they are still earning wages that should be reported to the state. By raising this issue, you are alerting the state that a reduction of the UI benefit should occur. The weekly benefit amount will be reduced by the amount of wages earned in that week. In some cases, this may negate the weekly benefit amount entirely.
- Able and AvailableThis is particularly important to employers who maintain an on-call or seasonal workforce. Most states consider an on-call employee unemployed following each assignment.Documenting their availability for future assignments is crucial. When an employee refuses an offer of work, it should be reported to the state. This raising an issue that can result in a weekly ineligibility, barring UI benefits for that week. In some cases, a refusal of work can result in a permanent disqualification.
- Leaves of AbsenceEmployees who are on a leave of absence are ineligible to receive UI benefits. In most cases, the state will either rule that they are on leave and still job attached, or that their condition makes them unable to work full time.
Protesting issues of eligibility will not always result in a permanent disqualification of benefits, but it does buy you time.Even if you prevent a couple of weeks of UI using this method, the compound impact on your UI rate will be beneficial.
As a provider of unemployment cost control and claims management services, UIS can help you save money and eliminate the hassles. Contact us today.
About the Author
Jeff Oswald is the President of Unemployment Insurance Services. In nearly twenty years of managing UI accounts on behalf of businesses, he has participated in thousands of unemployment hearings.
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