UTCA Hosts Their 18th Annual Client Update!

Unemployment Tax Control Associates (UTCA) recently hosted its 18th Annual Client Update at the Sheraton Monarch Place Hotel and Conference Center in Springfield, MA.

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Extended Benefits = Extended Recession?!!

In a recent congressional report by the Committee of Ways and Means, the effect of the Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC) program is examined, and the data is staggering. Historical periods of extended benefits and record-breaking costs added to the national debt confirm what many employers (UTCA included) have believed as the US has struggled to create new jobs.

EUC Duration graph

This is a highly recommended read:

http://waysandmeans.house.gov/uploadedfiles/euc_labor_day_report_082814.pdf

 

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Massachusetts Freezes Rates: Law Passage and DUA Guidelines

On 4/15/14, Governor Deval Patrick signed an Unemployment Insurance rate freeze for 2014, eliminating a $500 million increase on employers that took effect January 1.  This bill is a stand-alone measure that does not take up any system reforms but addresses the more immediate need to secure UI payments for Q1/2014, while our legislators consider reform action.  As passed, this law freezes UI contributions at the current Schedule E and keeps the Trust Fund at a healthy $800M and represents the sixth consecutive year the state has prevented an automatic increase in employer UI taxes. With the rate issue now resolved, Massachusetts employers must square up with the UI system for the first quarter of 2014, which has an extended deadline for filing first quarter taxes of May 30, 2014.

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Emergency Unemployment Compensation Extension Act of 2014 Passes the Senate

The EUC temporary extension bill that has been debated for months was finally brought to a vote on the floor of the US Senate as an amendment to HR 3979 late yesterday and passed on a vote of 59 to 38 with three abstentions.  It was significant that the vote on the bill only received 59 votes in favor after earlier obtaining a 61 vote margin on cloture. The bill text is available at http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/BILLS-113hr3979eas/pdf/BILLS-113hr3979eas.pdf

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Performance Improvement Plans are effective in more ways than one!

Recently, we received a claim response from an employer indicating “Poor Performance” with regard to a salesman who had been terminated. Comments provided indicated that he had been on a Performance Improvement Plan (PIP) which required him to take his company issued laptop home with him. On the date the decision to discharge was made, the salesman had called out sick, and when the company went into his office, they found his laptop hidden in his desk drawer. The claimant was fired for violating the PIP. The claim was returned to the state as a discharge for misconduct. The claimant had been warned – via the PIP – of the requirement to take his computer home with him each night in an effort to help him meet his sales goals. Evidence that he failed to do so clearly existed. When questioned by the state, the claimant denied knowing he had to take the laptop home and alleged co-workers often left theirs in their office. The signed PIP was crucial to the employer’s case. The form clearly spelled out each and every objective the salesman was to meet. 

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Big Data, Big Confusion Part II: Hearing Run-Off Factor v. Win Percentage – The Real Measure of Wasted Time and Resources

In the previous post  we discussed the Disputed Claims Percentage (DCP) as a key metric and its relevance in gauging your organization’s UI program. This week we’ll take a look at the always-dreaded, over utilized, and deceiving appeal process. 

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Big Data, Big Confusion: What are your numbers telling you?

Analytics have infiltrated every aspect of our lives, for better or for worse. In many cases, it’s just plain confusing. What numbers should you focus on? What’s truly relevant and what is, for lack of a better term, just “fluff”? 

Holiday Help!

Many employers staff up during the last quarter of the year.  The increase in the number of people out and about, shopping during the holiday season, in turn increases the necessity for employers to hire.  Despite earlier prognostications that temporary seasonal jobs would not be as plentiful as last year, the retail industry added 159,000 jobs in October. Think about it, additional security is required at the mall; additional staff is needed to stock the shelves at night; additional employees are needed to pour the coffee and lattes for the shoppers during the wee hours of the night… 

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UTCA Navigates Over 100 Employers Through Compliance Changes and New Challenges in Managing Unemployment

Unemployment Tax Control Associates, Inc. (UTCA), the Employers Association of the Northeast, and the Affiliated Chambers of Commerce of Greater Springfield joined forces in October to present to their clients, and members, UTCA’s Annual Client Update – Clearing the Fog: Avoiding the Hidden Unemployment Cost Trap. Over 100 participants came to this exclusive event with renowned unemployment expert, Tim Phelan, VP Client Services & Chief Legal Counsel of UTCA. Tim presented a thought-provoking and insightful overview of the unemployment system in the context of recent law

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What do Prisoners & Millionaires Have in Common?

First, a warm up question: Who takes longer to find work after filing for unemployment compensation, Millionaires or Prisoners? This is actually a trick question because prisoners don’t qualify for unemployment.  Prisoners, by being incarcerated, fail to meet the standard of “ready for work” or “actively looking for work.” Yet, unemployment has been paid to prisoners, sparking a nation-wide crackdown on such fraudulent payments.  Millionaires are another story.  Hey, who isn’t ready or actively looking to be hired as a Millionaire?   How many Millionaires “qualified” for unemployment benefits when the financial markets hit the skids during the recent Great Recession?  Even in the face of separation packages in the millions of dollars, many institutions paid out unemployment benefits to very high wage earners.  Despite the clamor over the unemployment  insurance expenses for these two groups, the slowest legal group of claimants to return to work, and the receivers of the largest proportion of overpayments in the unemployment system constitute a third group; the Average Claimants whose household made under $50,000 per year. The majority of unemployment insurance payments – around 70 percent — go to these households, a figure recently reported by Bloomberg. Here’s a math test: If in any given year there happen to be 1,000,000 Average Claimants  (households earning under $50k) who happen to misfile beneficially and are consequently overpaid by $1,000 each, then how much systemic overpayment is that? That’s right. One billion dollars. Indeed, Department of Labor Statistics estimates that in 2012 overpayments nationally topped $4.8 billion. The waste basket was already full.

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