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How To Handle Unemployment Claims

(8-10 minute read)

In the normal course of business, employees come and go. As a result, you sometimes have to deal with unemployment claims. While these claims are usually routine, they can occasionally be complicated, and expensive. But there’s good news: being proactive can help prevent some claims and give you a better chance of winning the rest.

Unemployment payments are a legitimate and needed benefit for many employees. If your business cuts back on staff, expect unemployment claims to follow. However, beyond a clear-cut situation, the rules can get a bit gray.

If an employee resigns but claims that the cause of the resignation was, for example, a hostile workplace or unpaid overtime, they may be eligible for unemployment compensation. This is called quitting for “good cause.” But how “good cause” is defined from state to state isn’t always 100 percent clear.

So, what can you do to ensure you’re only paying for unemployment claims that are valid? Here are four suggestions.

  1. Document all terminations.

Your first line of defense occurs when an employee leaves your company. If it’s a resignation, keep all related paperwork, including any emails and letters. The same applies if you’re terminating an employee for cause. File or scan all documentation from the manager regarding the reason for termination.

Also, make sure you have a termination form, which should be used with every separation. Include a section for the reason for the termination and an area for the employee to sign. If the employee refuses to sign, note that on the form.

  1. Assess each case realistically.

As stated, if you have laid off employees, you will receive unemployment claims. In those cases, there’s nothing you can do. Their claims are legitimate and your company will be charged.

However, sometimes an employee who was fired for cause or even resigned for another job may apply for unemployment. These situations can get murky and proper documentation becomes crucial. Your unemployment notice will be dated, and this can be used to appeal the claim. If you would like to discuss the case with an HR expert who can help you assess your chances of winning an appeal, contact Axios HR. We’d be happy to help!

  1. Use your documentation.

For claims that you feel are invalid, prepare an appeal. Collect and organize all of your documentation. Write a clear summary of the situation, referencing each piece of your evidence. Have a qualified colleague read through the whole packet to ensure your case is complete. Send your case by the deadline, but be sure to retain a complete copy (you may want to use certified mail so you have a receipt of when it was received.)

If the case is closed in your favor, you’ll receive a corresponding notice. But what if the notice says the opposite?

  1. Use your documentation—again.

If the unemployment department is not completely convinced of your case, you may need to be involved in a phone hearing or even a live hearing. In these cases, involve the manager and supply him or her with a copy of your complete packet of evidence. Go through it together before the hearing.

Your former employee will also be involved in this hearing. The best strategy is to make sure you remain calm and continually reference the evidence.


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September 27, 2018




Article Compliance HR Professionals Under 50 Employees Staffing

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