The State Unemployment Process

September 15, 2012 in , , , ,

Each time an individual leaves employment, you should consider completing an employee separation record or copy of the employee’s separation notice to maintain in the former employee’s file. State law may require such documentation as well. This documentation will help you provide accurate separation information when an employee files an unemployment claim.

The Claim
You will receive a claim from the state’s unemployment office when a former employee requests unemployment benefits. The required response time for an unemployment claim is usually quite short — four to ten days. In some states, the employer could be charged for not responding to a claim in a timely manner.

There are ways to potentially reduce your liability as a former employer, including:

  • careful administration of handbook policies
  • provision of accurate separation information
  • timely response to the state

The Determination
Once the state receives all pertinent information from you and the claimant, the state will render a determination of whether or not the claimant is eligible and if you have been found chargeable. Both parties have the right to disagree with the state’s determination and request an appeal hearing. Claim response due dates are shown on the unemployment claim form. If you respond after the deadline, you may lose your right to an appeal.

An employer who receives a charge determination may choose to request an appeal hearing to attempt a reversal of the determination. If you decide to take this approach, you must send a written request for an appeal hearing to be scheduled. The state then sends an acknowledgement of the request, followed soon after by a notice stating the time and date of the hearing. If you are granted an appeal hearing, you should have all supporting documents ready.

Depending on the state, unemployment hearings are conducted in person or by telephone. Hearings are recorded to document testimony and for future use if the case is appealed to the Board of Review.

A referee or administrative judge begins the hearing by giving an overview of the proceedings. Both parties are questioned, and each will be allowed to cross-examine the other party. Each party will be asked to provide a closing statement. The parties will generally receive a decision seven to ten days after the hearing ends.

Q: What are the eligibility requirements for unemployment payments?
A: Each state has different guidelines. In general, an individual must be unemployed through no fault of his own. A discharge for misconduct with substantiated documentation could disqualify the claimant, as will a resignation for personal reasons.

Q: How does an employee qualify for unemployment benefits?
A: Each state has a monetary calculation to determine whether an employee has worked long enough to qualify for benefits. In general, calculations consider earnings with all employers during a specific time period. Once the claimant is deemed monetarily eligible, the state’s enforcing agency reviews the reason for separation to determine if the claimant is eligible to receive benefits.

Q: How far back do agencies look to determine the amount of taxes paid by the employer on the wages of the former employee?
A: This depends on the state, but it is either 12 or 18 months.

Q: Are there penalties for failing to respond to a claim notice?
A: Again, depending on the state, you may lose the right to appeal if you fail to respond to a claim notice by the deadline. Some states impose a financial penalty of $15.00 to $50.00 per occurrence.

State laws governing unemployment insurance change continually, and there is a substantial amount of analysis, research, and paperwork involved to improve accuracy in unemployment administration. Be sure to check your state’s unemployment insurance guidelines.

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