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Arkansas’ Employers Could See Significant Reductions in Their Unemployment Taxes

Effective January 2018, most of the provisions in House Bill 1405 will take effect – one of those being the reduction of the unemployment insurance benefits claim period from five months to four months. The combined efforts of this provision and others noted in this bill plan to reduce Arkansas’ Employers’ insurance taxes by $50 million annually. The local Fort Smith Regional Chamber of Commerce hopes that it will also encourage those drawing unemployment benefits to look for work faster.

Click here for a summary of HB 1405: https://openstates.org/ar/bills/2017/HB1405/ 

Georgia’s Jobless Rate Decreases as Job Creation Rate Rises

The jobless rate in Georgia has fallen to its lowest levels in almost 10 years as the State’s Labor Industry is creating jobs and putting a record number of people back to work. In the month of June alone, over 27,000 jobs were created which is almost double the state’s normal job creation rate.

Read the full story here:  http://www.ledger-enquirer.com/opinion/article163369158.html

Tennessee Sets Internal Unemployment Rate Record

The state of Tennessee’s Department of Labor is setting records within their unemployment compensation program. Not only did they announce an historically low unemployment rate of 3.6%, but they are also paying out approved unemployment claims at a record rate due to recent system upgrades. According to the Department of Labor, the majority of people waiting for benefits are receiving their first payment within 10 days.

Read more about this story here: http://www.wsmv.com/story/35935559/tn-unemployment-rate-lowest-in-history-system-paying-people-faster

Vermont Ruling Expands Employment Classification of Independent Contractors

In a recent ruling issued by the Vermont Supreme Court, owners of a limited liability company (LLC), can be considered an independent contractor even when they do not have any employees.

In a statement issued by the Commissioner of the Department of Labor, Lindsay Kurrle noted this ruling “provides a level of clarity that we have not had previously.” She went on to state, “The classification of independent contractors is an issue that the department is committed to — both ensuring that workers are properly protected, and that businesses who want to utilize independent contractors are doing so with confidence and predictability of how the law is applied.”

Read more about this ruling here: http://www.benningtonbanner.com/stories/high-court-widens-pool-of-independent-contractors,511798

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Pennsylvania DOL Announces Amnesty Program

The Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry announced an unemployment compensation amnesty program entitled “Make it Right” on July 1, 2017. The program runs through September 30, 2017 and will not be an annual occurrence.

Parties eligible to participate in the program are claimants with overpayments established on or before Dec. 31, 2016; employers with unpaid contributions through the third quarter of 2016; and employers with unpaid reimbursements due on or before Oct. 31, 2016.

During the three-month amnesty, at fault claimants (who knowingly gave false information that allowed them to receive more benefits than they were entitled to) will receive a discount of half off interest accrued on their balances. They will be required to pay the full overpayment balance, lien costs, a 15 percent penalty and the remaining 50 percent interest. Non-fault claimants (who unknowingly accepted more compensation than they were entitled to) will receive a half-off discount on their entire overpayment balance. Employers will owe all contribution or reimbursement balances, lien costs and half of the interest accrued.

According to Pennsylvania DOL Secretary Kathy Manderino, “It’s an opportunity for claimants and for employers to do the right thing, to pay what they owe, and to end up with a clean slate.”

Visit the program’s website for more details: http://www.uc.pa.gov/Pages/UC-Amnesty.aspx

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Unemployment Compensation for Military Mates Who Quit to Relocate

Ohio is currently one of just four states (including Idaho, North Dakota and Pennsylvania) that does not grant unemployment compensation to military spouses who quit their jobs to relocate with their spouse, but a recent bill that has just passed the Ohio House of Representatives could change that.

The bill (House Bill 158), sponsored by Representative Rick Perales, would bring unemployment compensation to these spouses who must leave their civilian jobs to relocate for an active duty transfer with their military mates and according to Representative Perales, it will not be a cost to the state.

The bill is now making its way to the Senate.

View a Summary of the House Bill Here: https://www.legislature.ohio.gov/legislation/legislation-summary?id=GA132-HB-158

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Home Health Care Workers and Unemployment

Minnesota – In a recent case a claimant who had been caring for a family member through a home health care staffing agency alleged that she had been discharged from her assignment when her client moved out of the country and as a result she was no longer able to work for him. On the other hand, the employer maintained that ongoing work was available and when offered to the claimant, it was refused.

Under Minnesota’s unemployment compensation laws, when service for a particular patient ends, attendants are only eligible for unemployment compensation benefits if they tell the staffing service they are willing and able to work with another patient. Otherwise, the end of the original assignment doesn’t count as a discharge.

While an Unemployment Law Judge (ULJ) ruled in favor of the claimant, the state Court of Appeals overturned that ruling stating that “In this case, respondent elected to serve one client, her uncle.  She knew, from the beginning of the employment, that there was an option available to be assigned more clients…Further, when respondent communicated that her uncle had left the country, relator offered her the chance to work for a new client; respondent chose not to work.  The end of the employment relationship was not the effect of a policy change or a decision that relator did not want to employ respondent.  Relator gave respondent a chance to stay, and she declined…In view of the entire record as submitted, the ULJ’s decision finding that respondent was discharged and did not quit is unsupported by substantial evidence in the record. Based on these conclusions, we reverse the decision”.

Read the Full Case Details Here: http://law.justia.com/cases/minnesota/court-of-appeals/2017/a16-1316.html

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Employer Supplemental Unemployment Compensation Plan Prevents “Double-Dipping”

This recent case should be of great interest to any employers who offer a supplemental unemployment compensation plan to their employees. According to a recent ruling, if that plan pays the equivalent of regular weekly wages, then the employee can’t collect additional unemployment compensation payments from the state system.

Read the Full Case Details Here: https://casetext.com/case/leisey-v-express-scripts-servs-co 

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Honest Mistake Creates Unemployment Risk

Pennsylvania – In a recent case a worker whose employer falsely promised her health insurance benefits has won her case for unemployment benefits in the District Court.

At the time of hire, the claimant was told that she would receive fully paid health insurance coverage for herself and her spouse. A few months later management discovered that her position was not eligible for spousal coverage and that she would have to pay $950 per month for such coverage. The claimant testified that she left a job that paid more money to take the job with this employer because of the full benefits provided, and the security it provided to her family and that she was more than willing to continue her employment provided that the employer could continue to provide paid spousal insurance. As this was not an option, the claimant quit and despite the employer’s claim that they should not be penalized because they provided the benefits in error, the Court agreed with the claimant stating that she “met her burden of showing necessitous and compelling circumstances for voluntarily quitting her employment.”

This case is an important reminder for employers that even honest mistakes can create unemployment risk. Thoroughly confirming all the details in offers of employment and benefits, prior to hire, is a vital standard for all employers to uphold.

Read the Full Case Details Here: https://www.courtlistener.com/opinion/4383686/forbes-road-sd-v-ucbr/

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Disciplinary Discharge of Employees on Workers’ Compensation

It is a common practice for employers to avoid discharging employees who violate policy if they are receiving workers compensation benefits and thereby working a modified duty assignment, but it is very important that these employees are held to the same standards as their workmates, including compliance with applicable policies and procedures.

In a recent case, a nursing assistant who had been injured at work and was therefore restricted to working in a modified duty capacity was discharged for working beyond the limitations of her employment. After receiving a prior warning, she continued to perform tasks that were not part of her job description and which required additional qualification. As a result, she was also denied her request to reinstate her workers’ compensation benefits.  This case supports the unemployment practice of treating all employees fairly and equally in accord with their company policies and provides additional support for employers who are unsure of their obligations in cases involving employees receiving workers’ compensation benefits.

Read the Full Case Details Here: https://www.courtlistener.com/opinion/4382769/i-waugh-v-wcab-st-mary-medical-center/

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