Before you lay off employees, here are some things to consider:
Shared Work Unemployment Compensation Program
This program is an alternative to layoffs. It allows employers to divide available work among affected employees instead of a layoff.
Electronic Mass Claims Filing
The Electronic Mass Claims Filing system is available to employers for a temporary mass layoff of eight weeks or less.
The employer provides employee information that allows the DES to quickly and efficiently file initial and renewed unemployment claims on behalf of employees. The employee is still responsible for filing the weekly requests for payment.
For additional information, contact the Claims Programs section at 573-751-2219.
Employees laid off on a temporary basis with a recall date that has been approved for their claim are exempt from having to make a work search and are not required to report to a local Division of Workforce Development Job Center.
Employees who are on a layoff of eight weeks or less give the recall date information at the time they file their unemployment claim.
Employers may request DES Director approval of a work search waiver period for employees who are laid off greater than eight weeks but not to exceed 16 weeks from the last day the employee worked.
Employers should submit the work search waiver request at least two weeks in advance of the layoff, if possible, to ensure the DES has sufficient time to process prior to the layoff date.
Contact the Benefits Section at 573-751-9669 for assistance.
When a Layoff Occurs
Employee’s Claim for Unemployment Benefits
When an employee is laid off, they may file a claim for unemployment benefits. If they have sufficient wages to establish a claim, the employer is sent a notice of the claim. The notice also shows the wages as reported by the employer that were used to establish the claim. Any benefits paid are charged to the employer account in ratio to the amount of total wages used to establish the claim, possibly resulting in an increased experience rate. Employers with reimbursable accounts receive a direct charge for benefits paid.
The claimant’s wage records are used to determine the weekly benefit amount. Twenty weeks of benefits is the maximum allowed during the employee's benefit year.
The notice sent when an unemployment claim is filed provides an opportunity for the employer to submit a protest within 10 days of the claim notice. The employer cannot protest a layoff. However, information should be provided if the claimant is receiving vacation, holiday, Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) pay, pension, etc., as these payments could affect claim eligibility. The employer should also provide information if the claimant is not able or available for full-time work.
All relevant facts should be included in the protest. This permits a determination to be made without taking up the employer’s time to secure additional information.
The employer should also notify the DES in writing as soon as possible if the employee does not return when recalled to work. This notification may be submitted online by logging into UInteract.
After the protest period, a claims specialist (Deputy) gathers all the facts for any issues regarding the claim and determines whether the claimant is eligible for benefit payments or disqualified. Employers submitting a protest to a claim are mailed a copy of any determinations made. (Deputy’s Determination Concerning Claim for Benefits).
If the determination disqualifies a claimant, the account of the employer may not be charged.
Any employer who disagrees with the Deputy’s Determination Concerning Claim for Benefits may submit an appeal. An appeal is the appropriate action if it is believed the law was incorrectly applied or all the facts were not considered.
Penalties that may be Assessed Against Employers
A penalty may be assessed when an employer commits fraud by misrepresenting, misstating or failing to disclose information in order to deny unemployment benefits. For a first occurrence of fraud, the amount of penalty is 25 percent of the amount of benefits denied. The amount of penalty goes up to 100 percent of the amount of benefits denied for subsequent occurrences of fraud.
An employer can also be found guilty of a misdemeanor and subject to a fine or imprisonment in the county jail for making a false statement or knowingly failing to disclose a material fact to prevent or reduce the payment of benefits.
Employers may not be relieved of charges when overpayments occur as a result of the employer establishing a pattern of failing to provide timely and/or adequate information regarding unemployment claims upon written request from the DES.
Employers also may be penalized for delinquent quarterly reports. The penalty is 10 percent of the contributions due or $100, whichever is greater, for each quarterly contribution and wage report not filed timely. This penalty will continue to be imposed each month or fraction of a month the report is not filed. The maximum penalty per quarter is 20 percent of the contributions due or $200, whichever is greater.
Report Termination As Appropriate to Family Support Division
For an employee under wage withholding (child support) issued by the Family Support Division, Child Support Enforcement, the employer is required to notify the Family Support Division within 10 days of terminating an employee. The employer must also report the last known address of the obligor and the name and address of the obligor’s new employer, if known.