2nd Quarter Newsletter – UCM Specialists

An Unpleasant Surprise

Have you ever found yourself surprise and baffled, even blind-sided by your unemployment insurance statement? You may have experienced a scenario regarding a former employee who up and quit on you, maybe without even giving notice to see that your account has been docked a few thousand dollars as a result of what you would regard an arbitrary or even unfair granting of UI benefits to that employee. Well, join the club. It happens to the best of them.

You may have even stumble upon a claim charge from an employee who worked for you a year or more before! You may have sat in wonder thinking or even KNOWING that the employee surely worked elsewhere since. How could we be held liable for these charges?
From huge corporations, to tiny mom and pop shops, wrapping your head and your company dollar around outrageous decisions to hold you and your company responsible for “unfair” unemployment costs can be irritating and sometimes devastating, depending on the dollar amount of the liability you may be subjected to, the number of such claims in any given base year, and the overall size of your company’s workforce.
For smaller companies, you might be afraid of your future regarding growing staff and workforce support. For larger companies, you might be afraid to let staff go who aren’t performing well or who aren’t following the company guidelines, rules and expectations.
Keep it Simple

Most businesses are at a loss to understand or explain how unemployment insurance costs and premiums are even calculated or how and why they are awarded to employees you were sure would be denied. The simplest way to explain UI tax charges would be to compare them to an insurance system most of us can understand. Car Insurance. Just like car insurance rates, which rise each time you get into an accident, UI claims basically follow suit. Every time an employee leaves (like an accident) your company, files a claim (reporting the accident), and is subsequently awarded benefits (the payout), your insurance rate goes up and will only result in your tax account rating (insurance premiums) rising.
So who is in the driver’s seat?

The federal government determines employer’s base rates. The growth of the unemployed demographic drives those rates. Currently, the UI federal fiscal rate averages at approximately .6% of the first $7,00 of any given employee’s wages earned with your company. In some states, this percentage might show higher or lower percentage rates, depending on each states ability to cover its own UI costs. These charges cover the greater cost for state UI programs, and assist states that currently don’t generate enough money to cover the number of claims and extended benefits that may be paid to previously exhausted claims via UI claim benefit extensions.
While the number of unemployed workers drive the current federal percentage rates, the federal government certainly takes the wheel. The claimants are the passengers and Employers may feel like innocent by standards in what might sometimes feel like a hit and run collision! But you can be proactive in minimizing the damages.

Retention! Retention! Retention!

Each employer’s individual tax account rating will depend on the number of claims made against any individual employer. So how can you prepare yourself or protect yourself from the impact of these potential monetary damages? Retention. Retention. Retention!
It is imperative to understand that your unemployment insurance rates is directly related to the number of unemployed workers coming from their previous employment with your company, your overall collective unemployment history, the number of employees maintained on your payroll, how much you have already paid out in unemployment insurance, and the amount of time you have paid on each claim. Also realizing that any claim has the potential of dragging out for up to 3 years, with the application of exhausted claim extensions, as previously mentioned in this article. The potential average of such a claim can be up to the entire $7,000 previously mentioned as well.

Don’t Be Scared to Drive Onward

Please understand, this information is not meant to scare you, but to empower you with knowledge and to promote preventative strategies to protect yourself against such wreckage.
One of the most simple and direct ways to buckle your seatbelts and pump the breaks can be determined before you even start your engines. It begins in the hiring process. Rather than just filling the need or quota for a specified number or workforce employees, see to it that you are hiring the RIGHT candidates for your crew.

Slow Down!

This is not a race. Due diligence in your hiring process cannot be stressed enough. Recruit candidates with the ideal skills to do the job. Ask the right questions during the hiring process. Get a feel of how dedicated the candidate is to the longevity of the position. Can the candidate build a home with your company or are they using the opportunity as a filler or stepping stone to somewhere else? What is the work history of your candidates? How long do they stay on at their previous jobs? How was their work performance at their previous positions? Might they have a history of collecting unemployment benefits from employer to employer?

Yield! STOP!

We suggest starting new employees on a probationary period. A probationary period can be 30, 60, or 90 days. The probationary period for new employees is the time to assess signing an employment contract and/or taking on a potential employee under permanent employment status. The probationary period is your diagnostic period. Be advised, however, that the longer your probationary period is, the greater a possible benefit amount might incur if you choose not to take that employee on permanently. However, the costs associated with not moving forward can be greatly reduced if you decided sooner than later and if you do your best to ensure that you are hiring the right candidates to begin with.
Depending on when your new employee is eligible to come on as a permanent to start collecting benefits, don’t be afraid to either yield or stop the continuation of the transition to permanent status. If you find that you are unsure if hiring the employee on fulltime is in the best interest of your company moving forward, don’t. Extend the probationary period, or part ways. That is what it’s there for.

Swerving before Impact

The impact of a crashed working relationship can be costly and time consuming. From issuing the termination of the previous employee to the costs associated with retaining a new employee (recruiting costs, payroll costs, training time and manpower, benefit onboarding, etc.) and then to the subsequent costs associated with the former employees associated UI claim can cost several of thousands of dollars.
So, let’s again address and reiterate how these costs are minimized long before the employee leaves the company. As stated before, it begins at the hiring process.

Once an employee is accepted as a full time, permanent part of your workforce, it is essential that he is equally treated as such and understand what that means for your work culture and how it directly affects his/her working relationship moving forward. Clear and direct guidelines and expectations should be immediately laid out before him.
The employee should be given to sign, a hard or computerized copy of the employer rules, regulations, policies, procedures, expectations, and ethical codes of conduct. The progressive discipline policy would be made fully aware and the employee should understand that all employees, old or new, should be conducting themselves accordingly.

It is of most advantage to have in place, a systematic approach to handling breeches in policies, procedures, company standards and ethics. A progressive disciplinary policy is not only most common, but most affective, both throughout the duration of employment but especially at the time of a UI claim or appeal. Any such breeches should fully be documented, presented to the claimant, a clear expectation moving forward should be explained, a plan of action, and a brief outline of the possible repercussions associated for failure to improve or meet said expectations. Ideally, a progressive disciplinary process should include most, if not all of, the following steps:
1. Verbal Warning or Coaching (Documented in the employee’s personnel file.
2. (at least one) Written Warning
3. Final Warning
4. Suspension (recommended but not required)
5. Termination

The point of the progressive disciplinary process is to give employees an opportunity to get well adjusted, learn the do’s and don’ts, give employees an adequate and reasonable amount of time to meet your standards or correct behaviors, and to protect the employer from future charges for awarded UI claims. Unemployment law will always seek to ensure that the claimant had an opportunity to correct any issues pertaining to his/her employment to help make the determination if misconduct or any other disqualifying factor in a termination was made appropriately.
However, we cannot assume that all separations from employment and subsequent UI claims are direct results of workers being fired. Some will be due to layoff; some will be due to resignations. It is important that your company handbook outlines the expectations associated with both of those types of separations. For example, if an employee is dissatisfied with his/her job, coworkers, supervisors, culture, etc. have you outlined how that worker might be expected to approach or attempt to rectify their concerns prior to resignation. How much notice have you required an employee to give in the case that they resign? Have you outlined how the notice of resignation should be tendered? And above all, have you head your employees to the standards, rules, regulations, and procedures you spent so much time writing? If not, you might stand to not only crash, but burn in a UI claim or appeal.

The Maintenance Crew

Just like we use companies to handle our vehicular insurance, so should everyone consider utilizing a company, like UCM, to handle unemployment cost management and the claims associated with those costs. Claims and appeals can not only be time consuming and overwhelming, but they can be confusing. Many businesses lose at the claim and/or appeal levels for various reasons. Maybe you have a high turnover and cannot handle the number of claims in an efficiently timely manner. Maybe you lack the manpower, time, or resource to handle such claims. Maybe you don’t understand the verbiage or laws being thrown at you. Whatever the reason, we are here to do it for you.
UCM is a team of unemployment cost management specialists. We monitor all of your claims, help fight your UI appeals, or in some cases, fight your appeals for you.

If you choose to do it alone, hopefully, we have presented you with some strategies to prevail in some of your simpler UI claims, appeals, and appeal court hearings.

1st Quarter Newsletter – UCM Specialists

We Respectfully Decline

The Unemployment rate in our country has been on a slow and steady decline since the outrageous spike in unemployed and underemployed Americans suffering a decade ago.
At the time of the inauguration of President Barack Obama, the US was experiencing a devastating peak of Unemployed adults in the United States. Since the start of President Obama’s presidency, in 2009, there has been a definite decline from a national average from a staggering 10.3% unemployment rate to an impressive 4.3% unemployment rate reported mid last year.
Unfortunately, mid last year we began to yet again, experience a small rise in unemployed Americans, with a reported 6.6 million unemployed American Workers in June of 2018. African Americans, Hispanics, and Teenaged workers have been and continue to be among the highest percentage of workers affected by the unemployment rate and job shortages in the United States, with Caucasian and Asian workers being among the least affected. However, our current rates of unemployment are the lowest we have steadily experienced in over 50 years. Our country has not been this fully employed since 1969, except for a brief period in 1999 and 2000, when the Unemployment rate fell just below 4%.
So, let’s look at who’s doing it right and who’s still falling behind.
The following states have a current unemployment percentage of 3% and Lower: Iowa, Hawaii, New Hampshire, Idaho, North Dakota, Vermont, Minnesota, Nebraska, Virginia, South Dakota, Wisconsin
These states, however, are not doing as well as those listed above. With an unemployment rate of 4% and Higher: Connecticut, Michigan, New Jersey, Orgon, Wyoming, California, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Washington, Kentucky, Nevada, Ohio, Mississippi, New Mexico, Arizona, and Louisiana
Washington D.C. and Alaska are among the two states most suffering from the high Unemployment rates of 5.5% and 6.3%.

Keep It Colorful

It is imperative that companies do their part in creating an equal workforce, inclusive of under-represented demographics. Remember, there are hundreds of thousands of ready and willing workers with useful skills and drive from every race, gender, orientation, religion, and AGE. Your company’s cultural competencies in diversity and inclusion could even the playing field and produce invaluable turn around in our entire workforce and the overall economic health of our nation yet to come.
Less Isn’t Always More
You might think that less employee salaries your company is paying, the less monetary responsibility to your company. That might be so, if the reduction of your workforce is not being determined by layoffs, resignations, and terminations. While it might be in an employer’s best interest to cease its efforts to increase its current workforce, the opposite outcome can arise from actively decreasing your current staff.
For each employee leaving your company, there is a potential for monetary liability in the form of increased UI costs paid out to employees who are laid off, terminated, and often, who resign, depending on the qualifying factors associated with said resignations.
Looking Into Your FUTA
Federal Unemployment Tax Act imposes UI associated costs and taxes only onto Employers. Employees do not pay into UI taxes and associated costs. All UI Liabilities fall upon Employers. The only states in which Employees pay a very small contribution into the UI system is Alaska, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania.
The tax liability is calculated by applying the base wages, or the first $7000 paid to each employee, annually, by the FUTA tax rate, which is currently 6%. So, your company’s contribution will be 6% of each employee wages up to but not exceeding $7000 per employee in any base calendar year. Earnings over $7000 are not subject to this payout.

A Clearer Understanding

Unemployment Insurance is a federal program which protects the rights and interests of the working class in the United States. This program ensures that eligible workers who were released from their careers or job positions through no fault of their own, have temporary financial assistance while trying to secure subsequent employment yet again. The employee must meet State Law requirement and base period wage requirements to be eligible to collect Unemployment Insurance. Likewise, the employee MUST have been found to be out of work due to no cause of their own or unpreventable circumstances.
How Long Is Too Long?
Benefits in most states can be collected for up to 26 weeks and even longer, depending on the unemployment rate and circumstances present at the time of the continued claim. All 26 weeks of UI costs, the Employer is responsible for. Extended benefits normally range from an additional 7 to 13 weeks but can extend as far out as an additional 20 weeks! Each week of extended benefit payments are the same amount as those paid out during the initial duration of the initial claim.

Never Too Early To Start

It is important to look at UI Cost Management, not as something that becomes relevant at the time of separation for an employee from your company, but rather at an expense that is associated with the START of employment. So how do we keep these costs down? The best strategy for UI Cost Management is employee retention. Hiring candidates whose values, work ethic, interests and personalities align with your company’s vision. What are the applicants long term goals, specifically as they pertain to the longevity of your relationship?
So, What’s The Plan?
Strategize retention practices now! In the case of a revenue reduction, how will you retain employees, while attempting to regain revenue, rather than issuing layoffs and being subjected to increased UI Payoffs? When you layoff an employee, there are far more immediate financial repercussions than what you may have considered. Not to mention the ongoing financial responsibility for extended UI claim periods. Before laying off employees that you think you can no longer afford, consider the calculation of those severance packages, the risk of litigations, the hit to company morale, or a damaged relationship with employees who may one day be invited to return? Have you considered the cost of recruiting, hiring, and training new employees in their place?

Cut It Out

Have you identified all the areas in which you can cut Employer costs? Can your company discontinue raises, bonuses, petty cash expenditures, business travel, overtime, and office perks? No more coffee and flavored creamer, or Friday pizza parties, or free bottled water might seem like a huge inconvenience, but even talking to your staff about where the company is and its wish to keep everyone working might create a transparent culture where employees feel more valued and responsible for pulling together as a team to independently support the success of the company and its morale. Offering more unpaid days off, vacation days, or even unpaid sick days can also help cut costs and share the work load more evenly, rather than laying workers off because there is not enough full-time work to go around. Ask for volunteers to go to part time hours or if any employees would like to or need to take a temporary sabbatical while still feeling the safety of job security and the option to return. Likewise, offer shorter workdays or work weeks. Who doesn’t love the option of going home early? There are so many options available before you start cutting down your workforce and paying out heap sums of UI benefits and severance packages. Think every option through.
Weeding Out The Garden
One of the most beneficial cost reduction strategies for companies in threat of downsize is to complete an internal employee audit. Every successful business runs on a series of checks and balances. This normal business strategy isn’t only reserved for product vs revenue, but for employees vs optimum functionality and support. Review employee files, specifically inventorying which employees seem to have harder times adhering to company policies and procedures. Review attendance records and disciplinary files. Are any employees on 2nd, 3rd, or final warnings? Are any employees on probation or up for review? If downsizing is a must, can you start with Employees who are more liability than asset? Can you put more surveillance on those employees and be proactive in dismissing those employees who are not adhering to company standards? Those are the employees who will be less likely to file and less likely to be eligible to collect UI benefits, rather than upstanding employees who would otherwise be subject to a layoff, in case of downsizing.

What You Claimed Happened

Be forthcoming and detailed in your termination notices and if your claim responses. We cannot tell you how many claim responses we come across with limited explanations as to the reasons of separation. In most of those cases, Employer responses are generic “one-liners” like, “Employee was terminated for violation of the Employer’s Policy.” Or “The Employee was terminated for cause.” These statements do not win UI claims. Being a bit more detailed in your responses gives the adjudicator more information to make and educated determination, based on that law. Remember, that the claimant will be interviewed by and adjudicator and will most likely over-speak and over-explain, therefore, it is not in your best interest to under explain. Using more candid responses, such as, “The Employee was terminated for a violation of our company’s Code of Ethics when he/she reported false time card records in exchange for unearned wages.” This gives the adjudicator more insight to the facts that lead to the separation and may precipitate a deeper look into relieving the Employer of liabilities associated with UI claim costs.

Perfect Timing

Be timely in your response. Even though the response time may be a week or two, try to respond as soon as you have received the UI Claim. Do not wait until the last day to respond or send in your response. Remember that the people at the Unemployment Division likewise have huge workloads and are just trying to finish their work by the end of their deadlines. Please don’t make your deadlines match the UI Adjudicator. Be considerate of time and get them everything they need up front. Documentation, Policies, Records, as well as your more detailed but brief explanation of the employment history and reason for separation make the entire process run more smoothly and reduces the turn-around time for decisions, not to mention and increase in favorable decisions for the Employer and a reduced chance you will ever be responsible to pay out a single dime for that claim.

What Oregon Employers Will Pay for Workers’ Compensation in 2019

· Insurance premium: The pure premium rate for 2019 will decrease by an average 9.7 percent compared with 2018. Pure premiums are the base rates, before insurer costs are added. The impact on your company’s rate depends on a variety of factors, including industry and individual claim records. Your next policy renewal with your insurer will reflect this change.

· Premium assessment: Insurance companies (on your behalf), self-insured employers, and self-insured employer groups pay an assessment to the state to administer workers’ compensation and workplace safety programs. The assessment will increase from 7.4 percent to 7.8 percent of premiums paid. Self-insured employers and self-insured employer groups pay an additional amount into a reserve fund to pay claims in the event of an insolvency.
Self-insured employers pay 8.0 percent in 2019. Public-sector self-insured employer groups pay 8.0 percent. Private-sector self-insured employer groups pay 8.8 percent.

Employer Payroll Information

Workers’ Benefit Fund (cents-per-hour) assessment: Employers and employees split this assessment, which employers collect through payroll. This assessment will decrease from 2.8 cents to 2.4 cents per hour or partial hour worked by each individual that an employer must cover or chooses to provide with workers’ compensation coverage.
Employers must pay at least half the amount (1.2 cents per hour) and deduct no more than half from workers’ wages.
Each quarter, employers use Forms OQ and OTC to report and pay the assessment through Oregon’s Combined Payroll Tax Reporting System. For information about calculating the assessment, visit oregon.gov/DCBS/Pages/wbfaspx, email wbfassess.fabs@oregon.gov, or call 503-378-2372.
This fund pays for benefits to injured workers and their beneficiaries. The fund also provides money to employers to help injured workers return to work.

Maine Modernizes UI Tax System

As Maine prepares for a new modernized UI tax system, (ReEmployME) in November, employers need to create a secure portal account for access to the system.
To create an account, go to maine.gov/reemployme, click on “Create ReEmployME Account” and follow the prompts. Be sure to have your Federal and State Employer Identification Numbers with you. The process is simple and takes only a few minutes.
If you have questions, or require assistance, please call 207-621-5120 or toll free 844-754-3508. TTY users call Maine Relay 711.
Create your portal account today!
https://www.maine.gov/reemployme
After go-live in November, employers that have created their ReEmployMe account will be able
to perform many interactive business functions online directly with the Maine Department of
Labor including:
Ø Submit Quarterly Wage and Contribution Reports directly to the Maine Department of Labor (beginning with Q4 2018)
Ø Remit Contribution Payments directly to the Maine Department of Labor (beginning with Q4 2018)
Ø Manage Employer Account contact information
Ø Designate Third Party Agents
Ø Access and review account history information

NMDWS Announces New “e-Audit” Tool

The New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions (NMDWS) is incorporating a new and easy to use e-Audit tool for employers. Since October 1, 2018, employers can now utilize the e-Audit tool as part of the electronic auditing process. In order to make the process more convenient and less time consuming for employers, an e-Audit will utilize a secure and encrypted electronic file upload feature for businesses to attach the required list of records, forms, and additional information requested as part of the audit.

If selected for an audit, you will have the opportunity to designate a current user on your Unemployment Insurance (UI) Tax & Claims System account or name an entirely new user to handle the audit process. This user, called a Designated Representative, will have access to the e-Audit upload feature located within your account. To ensure confidentiality on the account, only the department auditor and the Designated Representative will have access to the uploaded audit files.

North Carolina Modernizes its UI System

On September 28, 2018, the North Carolina Department of Commerce, Division of Employment Security (DES) will change how you interact with the agency. In order to provide better service, they are modernizing our unemployment insurance benefits system and how unemployment claims are handled within the Division.
North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia have been working together to develop a modern and efficient unemployment insurance benefits computer system. This system went “live” in South Carolina in September of 2017, and has been successfully operational since that time.
The new unemployment insurance (UI) benefits system is a self-service portal that is safe and secure. Launching on September 28, 2018, it will expand your access to the UI process by improving how you:

– Respond to separations.
– Receive charging information.
– Respond to wage audits.
– View agency correspondence.
– File appeals.
– View benefits charges.

The improvements to the system will create many efficiencies. For example, your notice of separation will be filed electronically.
Once this upgrade takes place, the request for separation information will not be mailed back to us. Instead, you will receive a letter telling you to answer this request via our website.

South Carolina has 2-to-1 unemployment vs. demand ratio

COLUMBIA, S.C. – While South Carolina experienced a slight increase in its unemployment rate to 4.1 percent in December 2017, it also saw an increase in the number of available jobs.

The number of job openings rose 2,593 from November to December, according to the Conference Board’s Help Wanted Online report. Statewide, the unemployment vs. demand, or labor supply, ratio remained at 2-to-1 from November to December, with 96,434 people unemployed and 62,795 job openings.

Labor demand in the Trident Workforce Area – Berkeley, Charleston and Dorchester counties – was greatest with 10,855 job openings posted. The Midlands Workforce Area – Fairfield Lexington and Richland counties – followed with 9,976 job openings. Both workforce areas had a 1-to-1 labor supply ratio.

Of all the job openings in South Carolina, Registered Nurses had the highest number of openings in December with 4,533, followed by Heavy and Tractor-Trailer Truck drivers reporting 3,873 jobs available. Rounding out the top five occupations with the most job openings were Retail Salespersons with 1,560, First-Line Supervisors of Retail Sales Workers with 1,419 and First-Line Supervisors of Food Preparation and Serving Workers with 1,133.

Oklahoma Unemployment Tax Rate Bill 1110 – 5% Reduction

The Oklahoma Legislature passed a bill on May 24, 2017 which has a direct effect on your Unemployment Insurance tax rate. House Bill 1110 which went into effect July 1, 2017 states that for January 1, 2018 through December 31, 2022, your state unemployment tax rate will be reduced by 5% for any employer with less than the maximum rate. This 5% reduction in your tax rate is offset by another part of the bill which requires all rated employers with less than the maximum rate pay an OESC Technology Reinvestment Apportionment equal to 5% of the Unemployment Taxes owed for that time period.

In effect, this means that the taxes that you will be paying on your quarterly report will be split between the OESC Technology Fund and the Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund through December 31, 2022.

The OESC Technology Fund will allow the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission to modernize its business processes and technology in a manner that will not impose hardship on the employers in the state.

Example Purposes Only (DO NOT USE EXAMPLE RATE TO CALCULATE YOUR QUARTERLY TAXES):

Assigned or Calculated 2018 Rate

HB 1110 reduces your rate by 5% – Use to calculate IRS Form 940

HB 1110 increases your reduced rate by 5% – Use to calculate Contribution

on OES-3 Quarter Contributions Report

Your total Contribution will be split and applied as follows:

Taxable Wages x 2%: 2500.00 x 2% = Total Contribution Due with Report 1.9% Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund (Report on IRS Form 940) 0.1% Technology Fund

2.0%

-0.1% = 1.9%

+0.1% = 2.0%

$50.00

$47.50

$2.50

 

Only the portion applied to the Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund (Contribution/Tax) should be claimed on IRS Form 940. Failure to properly report the correct amount of taxes paid to the state may result in your business not receiving the full rate reduction allowed against your FUTA tax rate. You may find the amount that will be reported on your FUTA Certification online at https://eztaxexpress.oesc.state.ok.us by clicking the IRS FUTA Certification link on the menu.

The rate used on your IRS FUTA Certification will be the reduced rate.

Please direct questions to the Employer Compliance Department at (405) 557-5330

Senate Laws Instead of Santa Clause?

 

Senate Laws Instead of Santa Clause?

Are UI benefits actually costing employment during this Holiday Season? Thanks to the State House and Senate Committee proposed UI tax laws, it very well might be. PA has jumped from approximately $2 billion in UI contributions to almost $5 Billion just last year. PA employers pay no less than $200/employee in tax but not more than $900 While that may not seem like a lot to smaller companies, companies with 100 employees, for example, will need to factor a minimum $20,000 and a maximum of about $87,000 just in UI expenses alone. Factor that dollar amount into the total amount of the several other types of taxes and expenses of said labor force. Social Security tax, workman’s comp premiums, health insurance, and the list goes on. If you are a new Employer, you are looking at around $300 per employee for UI compensation taxes. New Contractors pay just over $800 per employee, much higher than most other states. As a result, some PA Employers are recruiting employees outside of the State. In turn, PA is left with fewer jobs for job seekers, thus increasing the Unemployment rate in this state.

New Years, New Standard

When a new Employer begins to pay wages, the “New Employer Rate” will be applied for the first 2 to 3 years from the time that employer begins to pay wages. However, a New Employer who files no taxable wages during each quarter of one of the last 4 years would not have sufficient employment experience to base a calculated rate on. New Employers pay a base contribution rate of 3.68 percent in 2017 which will increase to 3.69 percent in the New Year 2018. New Construction Employers pay 10.19 percent which will increase to 10.22 percent in 2018. Employer contributions are then determined by multiplying the Employer Rate by the number of Taxable wages paid out by the Employer.

Contributory Employers may be transferred to a Standard Rate after they no longer qualify for a New Employer Rate. The Standard Rate would be adjusted according to the amount remaining in the reserve account. Employers with a Zero to Positive reserve account balance will be have the benefit of a lower standard rate that those with negative balances. Solvency measures are, thus, by law, added to the Employer’s rate accordingly. In 2017 the Standard Rate to transitioning (former) “New Employers” with positive reserve account balances was 7.42%. The new standard for the New Year 2018 is 7.29%. The Standard Rate to transitioning New Employers with negative reserve account balances was 11.41% in 2017 and 11.29% in the coming New Year 2018. The higher each Employer’s unemployment rate, the higher that Employer can expect their contribution rates will be. Vice versa, Employers who maintain higher rates of stable employment retention can expect to see lower rates.

Delinquent Employers can expect to see a contribution rate 3% higher than the rate they would, otherwise, have been assigned. An Employer can be considered to be delinquent by failing to timely file their registration documents, fail to file Quarterly UC tax returns, and/or failing to pay all quarterly taxes, and/or failing to pay balances in full.

 

 

Termination and Disciplinary Forum: Customer Complaints

When an employer terminates an employee for multiple or severe customer complaints the hurdle that must be scaled is obtaining first hand testimony from the complaining party. Many times, the complaint is from a client, patient, or service provider. When it comes to clients, I rarely find that the employer is willing to drag in a person who already complained about the company, to an unemployment hearing. In cases of vendors or suppliers, they are often too busy to change their schedules and leave their place of work to attend or participate in an unemployment hearing. There are many technical difficulties, mobility difficulties and liability when moving them.

Another example is a complaint from a co-worker. This is also a rock and hard spot. You do not want to cultivate an atmosphere where one co-worker starts to harbor resentment toward another. That can be very dangerous in today’s society.
So, what can an employer do? To start with, you can obtain a statement in writing from the complaining party. Have the complaining party write the statement or have another person write the statement for them if they are unable, in the case sometimes of patients. I always recommend that you have typed on the bottom of the paper, before they write their statement:

“This statement is made under oath and affirmation of truth, nothing but the truth, in accordance with (name the state) governing laws. The statement(s) are not made under duress or coercion. These statements are to serve in my place if my appearance if it becomes necessary and I am unavailable to fulfill this request.”

The next step is the most important, have a notary sign the complaint.

If a notary of public is not available, have at minimum, a third-party sign as a witness to the statement. If you do not have a statement your next best step is to have the manager or supervisor who received the complaint, attend or participate in the hearing to be a second-hand witness. The first-hand witness is the person who saw the act or actions first hand, or directly heard the act or actions evoking the complaint. The once removed supervisor from the direct supervisor who wrote or heard the complaint holds little weight when providing creditable testimony. More often than not this testimony is dismissed as hearsay or mere affirmation of the employer file.

In all cases where a statement or a supervisor in opposed to the actual person complaining, the hurdle or problem is that their testimony cannot be cross examined or questioned. The way to assure a successful outcome at an unemployment hearing when the termination resulted from complaints is a notarized signed statement by the complaining party.

 

When to terminate for complaints:

If the complaint has violated a rule that is written company policy or a violation of law the employees conduct rises to a level of gross misconduct and can be terminated upon first offense. In most cases of complaints, two complaints followed up by written warning start the process. The next complaint warrants a second written warning and/or a suspension accompanied by a direct statement that the next complaint offense will result in termination. A single future complaint can result in termination with a written statement, warning, outlining the complaint.

Many employers terminate at the second offense out of concern for loss of business. Hire, Fire, Termination and Unemployment are costs of business but not your primary business. I always tell employers to guard against UI costs but manage your primary business first, try to do all documentation and warnings in order and in writing but there are times when you perform a termination and will happily lose the unemployment claim as the lesser of the two evils.

 

Article Written by UCM Specialists UI Legal Advocate Team.