4 Tips to Ensure Your Responses to State UI Information Requests Won’t Violate the UI Integrity Act
The UI Integrity Act is a law signed in 2011 and it was designed to curtail the overpayment of benefits to claimants and to incentivize employers to participate in the process of cleaning up the UI system. This act, among many other things, required each State to pass legislation to require employers to respond in a timely and accurate fashion to information requests by State UI Agencies. It further required the States to impose penalties on employers who demonstrate a pattern of not responding to these requests.
Although the penalties for violating the UI Integrity Act vary greatly by state, the takeaway to remember about this law is that all states have imposed some form of penalty to offending employers and many employers in the last year or two have begun being notified that they are not in compliance and they have been assessed those penalties. The issue with the UI Integrity Act is that there are so many laws, timeliness and completeness requirements on employer responses, and penalties that many employers are just plain confused about what to do. The following tips should help you to stay in compliance with the requirements of this law.
Know the timeliness requirement in each state in which you operate – in most cases, the time deadline for responding to a State request for additional information is included with the request, but it does not hurt to familiarize yourself with what is required in your state – often you can call the State UI Agency and ask.
- Document, Document, Document – If it isn’t written down, it didn’t happen. The best course for employers is to document as much as possible, especially when it comes to employee discipline. Although employers may balk at the idea of so much paperwork, documentation is the best defense against an unwarranted unemployment insurance claims and, if done effectively, will satisfy and completeness requirements of the UI Integrity Act.
- Stick to the facts. When responding to unemployment claims, provide the exact amount of information requested by the hearing officers – no more, no less. Employers should focus instead on providing information that establishes the direct-and-proximate cause of the separation and not add their own laundry list of the employee’s past offenses if they have nothing to do with the reason for separation.
- Gather evidence and include it with the response/protest. Your first protest or response is actually your best opportunity to win and prevent the claimant from collecting against your employer account – so make sure that your first response includes all available evidence to support your protest (or to support your response).
The most important thing employers need to understand about the UI Integrity Act is that they no longer have the option to just ignore UI claims or the UI process. Those who are still doing nothing or not responding to requests for information from state agencies or hearing officials will quickly find that the cost of noncompliance can be quite expensive. The best thing you can do is use a proactive approach to unemployment insurance claims management. That may mean adopting more quality HR policies and procedures, and even bringing in outside counsel. To learn more about how the UI Integrity Act has impacted the claims management process, visit us on the web at www.unemploymenttracker.com