The Most Common Questions About Unemployment Insurance

When it comes to unemployment insurance, you probably have a lot of questions. It’s a complicated world and many businesses don’t have the resources to dedicate a person fully to navigating its waters. To help you out, here are some of the most frequent questions we’re asked by current and prospective clients.   

Who is charged for an unemployment insurance claim?  

The short answer is the employer in some capacity, but the specifics vary by state. Your state will determine who is chargeable, whether it’s the most recent employer for all benefits or if prior employers will share the claim in inverse order. Some may charge employers in proportion to the wages they paid during the base period and others will offset the unemployment benefit charges through volunteer contributions to the unemployment fund.  

How does the state determine how much to pay? 

The costs are determined by an employee’s past earnings. Paid on a weekly basis, the benefits are based on the claimant’s usual wage and is generally about 50 percent of the wages. Every state has its own maximum weekly benefit amount, with some states paying significantly higher than others. If the claimant receives higher wages, they will usually receive less than 50 percent.  

If someone quits, can they collect unemployment? 

In order to receive unemployment benefits after quitting, the employee has the burden of proof to demonstrate they left their job for a valid reason with good cause attributable to the employer. They can ultimately receive benefits, but only after proving there was a significant change to employment or serious issue that the employer refused to address.  

Can someone work and collect wages while they’re collecting unemployment? 

Yes, this can happen. Most states will pay unemployment benefits when a claimant is partially employed, but the wages will reduce how much they receive from UI.  

Are part-time or on-call employees eligible for unemployment? 

Yes, an employee can collect wages for any week they didn’t work. Part-time employees who earn enough money are eligible to file.  

Can temporary employees get unemployment? 

Even if there is a set time for the contract to end, the temp is still eligible, but as their employer is technically their staffing agency, the agency is responsible for paying the benefits. Once you hire an employee into a permanent position, you become liable to pay their unemployment benefits.  

How are unemployment tax rates determined? 

Ultimately it comes down to your payroll and how well you manage your UI claims and costs. Each state has its own specifics that determine how long the employer’s experience will affect their taxes.   

Have more questions? 

We covered a few of the common inquiries, but we know there are many more. Please contact us if you’re looking for more assistance! 

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Training Your Management Staff Will Save You Money On Protestable Unemployment Insurance Claims

How many of you have received an unemployment insurance claim in the mail or on your agency web page and then tried to respond but discovered that there is no documentation in the employee file to support a protest? Or discovered that your disciplinary process was never followed and you cannot protest the claim – even though the employee should not be receiving unemployment? Frustrating isn’t it.

With high cost of unemployment to employers, you really can’t afford to pay claims where the claimant should not qualify, and more often than not, you do pay! Most employers only win about half of the claims they protest and many employers don’t protest all of the UI claims they should because they think they can’t win.

What can be done to fix this problem? Well, the list of areas that may need fixing can be quite lengthy, but one area that you should be looking at is management training. Make sure your managers are trained in how to manage your staff properly and in how to properly follow employment law (and unemployment law).

3 areas in which you should focus:

  • The proper interpretation and use of your employer policies – your management staff should know and understand how to implement your policies and procedures. Get out your employee handbook and ensure your managers are using it correctly (or are they even following those policies at all).
  • The basics of Unemployment in the state(s) in which you operate – teach your managers why it is important that they follow the processes laid out in your UI Management program (if you do not have a UI Management program – then you can contact an expert to start one – the savings will surprise you). One of the things that will surprise your managers most is when you let them know just how costly unemployment can be.
  • How to properly complete an employee review/evaluation – many employers and managers get the evaluation process wrong and it can come back to haunt you in an unemployment protest. For example, it can be hard to win a UI protest in which you are justifying a termination for safety violations when the last employee review shows a “meets expectations” or higher in the areas involving safety (the same goes for attendance, attitude, productivity, etc.)

There are numerous areas where you should focus your training efforts including:

  • Disciplinary actions
  • Employee Coaching
  • Employee Reviews
  • Interpreting handbook policies
  • And more

Each of these topics affect your unemployment program success or failure – and whether you lower your UI costs. Invest the time and money into training and you will see a solid return on that investment in many areas of your operations, including unemployment costs – you likely will find it was worth the effort!

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