Of all the ways to control your Unemployment Insurance (UI) costs, none are more critical than winning the majority of your protests to the UI Agency. I have spoken to numerous employers who win less than 50 percent of the claims they protest (and a few even have confided that they seldom win). Why are these employers not winning the protests that they send in – there are several possible answers to this question:
- Missed protest deadlines– as an employer (or a claimant) there is a defined time period in which a protest may be filed on a claim or a possible ineligibility situation (those range from 7 to 30 days depending on the issue and the state in which the claim is filed). If you miss this deadline, your protest rights may be terminated or you may not get full credit if you win – or in some states, you may get fined.
- Insufficient documentation – as the employer, you may have a legitimate reason to protest the claim, but may not have enough evidence (documentation) to prove/support your point. Employers can be notoriously poor at documenting employee discipline and development (there can be other areas of employee/employer documentation that come into play, but discipline and development are the most critical).
- Insufficient UI knowledge – many employers lack the knowledge of how the unemployment systems in their state(s) work and therefore do not understand how to protest and win.
- Insufficient motivation – there are many employers out in the world today who do not really try to manage their UI costs. Often this is because they are not aware of how to do so, or do not know that it is possible to do so. They could not be more incorrect, unemployment costs are actually quite controllable and the savings are worth the effort.
Many employers want to know how to go about improving their UI Protest winning percentage – increasing your win percent will lead directly to UI tax savings each year – saving tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars each year (or even millions). Here are a few tips to get you started:
- Put your best foot forward right out of the gate – employers should ensure that their first protest of a claim has everything in it that is needed to win (don’t hold anything back for the hearing later). Statistically, employers who win the first/initial protest win the rest of the way through the process more than 70 percent of the time. Employers who lose the first/initial protest lose almost 70 percent of the time the rest of the way.
- Actually say “I protest” or “I request a hearing” – it sounds crazy but it is true – claims examiners or administrative law judges do no go looking for protests, and if your letter does not actually say the words, you may not get a protest out of it.
- Be specific – don’t use the scatter shot approach to protests – be sure that you target the “final straw” that led to the action that occurred. Do not provide a laundry list of everything the employee did wrong during their tenure with your company – this allows the UI Agency to find a reason to pay the claimant (that is what they are trained to do).
- Do not say the wrong thing – the wrong word(s) can kill your protest. If the claimant abandoned the job, never say things like “we terminated the employee for not showing up to the job” – you have just turned this from a quit to a discharge and made the road to winning 100 times more difficult. Watch what you say when you protest the claim and you will win more often.
- Don’t give up easily – a big part of winning UI Protests involves being a “bulldog” about protests. Don’t give up, keep sending follow up letters and calls and eventually you will get an answer. If you are following these tips and working at a winning strategy – it will be an answer that is good for you and your company.
Don’t forget that you need to put together a UI Cost Management Program in order to truly maximize your cost savings. This includes looking at all of the reasons you win claims or lose them and then asking for help when you need it or have questions.