Posted by: Mitchell Hirsch on Feb 17, 2011

As reported by Unemployedworkers.org

UPDATE: FEB. 17 – UNEMPLOYMENT INSURANCE SOLVENCY BILL INTRODUCED IN SENATE
Senator Richard Durbin (IL), with Senators Jack Reed (RI) and Sherrod Brown (OH), today introduced the Unemployment Insurance Solvency Act of 2011, which offers immediate tax relief to cash-strapped states and employers, preserves UI benefit levels, and creates strong incentives for states to restore their UI programs to solvency while also rewarding states that have managed their UI trust funds effectively.

In a statement, NELP Executive Director Christine Owens said, “Jobless workers, and we hope employers too, should be grateful for the leadership of Senator Richard Durbin and his colleagues Sherrod Brown and Jack Reed on the issue of unemployment insurance solvency.  Following the President’s FY 2012 budget, the introduction of the Unemployment Insurance Solvency Act sets the stage for a serious conversation on how to make sure that the safety net tens of millions of Americans have counted on during the tough times of the last few years will be financially secure into the future.”

The new bill is similar to the plan outlined by President Obama in his remarks last week, but adds further protections for benefits and additional opportunities and incentives for states to return to solvency in the long run. 

Original Post: Feb. 11

Unemployment insurance is just that — insurance — and it’s financed by premiums paid on workers’ paychecks and deposited into a trust fund.  However, the unemployment insurance (UI) trust funds in many states are not only insolvent, but now face heavy debt burdens due to their increased need for federal borrowing during this prolonged period of high unemployment.  Restoring them to financial health is essential to ensure that unemployment insurance benefits are there for workers when they’re needed, both today and in the future.  The Administration has outlined a significant framework to address the problem, which would provide needed debt and tax relief to states and businesses.

A new plan from the National Employment Law Project (NELP) and the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) would build on that framework, further strengthening the long-term solvency of state UI systems while avoiding benefit cuts and employer tax increases.  Workers need to pay attention to this issue.  The last time UI trust funds got hit this hard, in the 1980s, 44 states cut back benefits for workers.

Many states UI trust funds have been hit in recent years by a double-engine freight train.  First, for years many states have inadequately financed their UI funds, both by keeping their taxable wage base for UI too low relative to inflation-adjusted dollar values, and by taking a dangerous “pay-as-you-go” approach, which failed to build adequate reserves during periods of economic growth.  The graph below shows the substantial erosion in the inflation-adjusted value of the wage base that is subject to the UI taxes that fund state systems.  What does this mean?  It means that the employer of a dishwasher pays the same unemployment premium as the employer of a banker.  It does not take a degree in actuarial science to know that this is not going to work.

Value of UI Taxable Wage Base, Adjusted

And oh yeah, second — well, then came the Great Recession with millions of workers’ jobs being lost and the vastly increased need for unemployment benefits to help sustain unemployed job-seekers and their families.

Now, 30 states have exhausted their UI trust funds and are borrowing from the federal government.

The lead editorial in The New York Times yesterday, titled ‘Relief for States and Businesses’, explained the need for the Obama administration’s approach.  Here are some excerpts:

So many people now receive jobless benefits that 30 states have run out of their unemployment trust funds and are borrowing $42 billion from the federal government. Three of the hardest-hit states — Michigan, Indiana and South Carolina — have borrowed so much that they triggered automatic unemployment tax increases on employers, and the same thing is likely to happen to 20 more states this year.

….

On Tuesday, the Obama administration unveiled a smart proposal to delay those tax increases and provide some relief to both employers and state governments. Congressional Republicans reflexively objected to the idea, which could produce higher taxes in three years, but this plan provides relief that might stimulate hiring now when it is most needed.

….

Under the plan, which is subject to Congressional approval, there would be a two-year moratorium on the increased taxes that employers would otherwise have to pay to support the unemployment insurance system, which could save businesses as much as $7 billion. During those same two years, states would be forgiven from paying the $1.3 billion in interest they owe Washington on the money they have borrowed.

….

In 2014, when the economy will presumably have recovered somewhat, employers will have to make up for the moratorium by paying higher unemployment taxes to the states. Specifically, they will have to pay taxes on the first $15,000 of an employee’s income, instead of the current $7,000. But, even then, unemployment taxes will be at the same level, adjusted for inflation, as they were in 1983, when President Ronald Reagan raised them.

The administration is proposing to cut the federal unemployment tax rate in 2014 so that employers would pay the same amount to Washington as they do now. States, if they choose to do so, could collect more from each employer to repay the federal government and restock their own unemployment trust funds.

….

The full details of the plan’s costs and benefits will be available when President Obama submits his 2012 budget to Congress next week. When he does, both parties should take a close look at the numbers and seize the opportunity to keep this fundamental safety net solvent.

“It is a major step forward for the President’s FY 2012 budget to address the UI trust fund crisis,” said Andrew Stettner, deputy director of the National Employment Law Project and a co-author of the new joint NELP-CBPP policy proposal.  “Our proposal rests on the same core principles — giving employers and states relief now while taking concrete steps to restore the long term solvency of the UI trust fund as the economy recovers.  The plan endorses two key aspects of what the Administration’s proposal reportedly includes — raising the taxable wage base up from the inadequate, outdated level of $7,000 and endorsing a two-year moratorium on federal UI tax increases.”

The NELP-CBPP plan, detailed in a new report, would enable states to restore the solvency of their UI trust funds, avoid significant tax increases on employers during a weak economy, and prevent damaging cuts in UI eligibility and benefits for jobless workers, without increasing the deficit.  The plan also suggests additional debt relief for states and positive incentives for employers, rewards states that have maintained sound financing packages, and builds on existing federal protections of state benefit levels.

In a statement, the groups provide a summary of the plan:

• The federal government would gradually raise the amount of a worker’s wages subject to the federal UI tax (i.e., the FUTA taxable wage base). This would automatically raise the floor for the taxable wage bases in the states which by law cannot be lower than the federal wage base, helping those states rebuild their trust funds. (The federal UI tax rate would fall, however, so that overall federal UI taxes did not go up.)

• The federal government would provide a moratorium, until 2013, on state interest payments on their UI loans.

• The federal government would also postpone, for two years, the FUTA tax increases required to recoup the loan principal in borrowing states.

• The federal government would offer immediate rewards and future incentives for states that currently have and continue to maintain adequate trust fund levels.

• The federal government would excuse a state from repaying part of its loan if the state (a) enters a flexible contractual agreement with the U.S. Labor Department to rebuild its trust fund to an appropriate level over a reasonable number of years, and (b) agrees to maintain UI eligibility, benefit levels, and an appropriate tax rate over the loan-reduction period.

This plan would produce the following benefits:

• Employers would not pay higher federal UI taxes until the beginning of 2014, saving them $5 billion to $7 billion while the economy remains weak and $10 billion to $18 billion over the next five years. Also, employers would pay no additional assessments to cover interest payments in 2011 or 2012, saving them $3.6 billion.

• In addition, partial loan forgiveness that comes from a state’s commitment to build adequate trust funds would save employers about $37 billion by the end of the decade. Counting the interest payments on this principal as well, employers could save as much as $50 billion.

• All or nearly all states would assume a path to permanent solvency.

• Employers in responsible states would receive concrete rewards and a more level playing field between the states.

• Adequate trust funds would stabilize UI tax rates over time, avoiding the roller-coaster tax rates common in many states — very low during healthy economic times, rising rapidly during recessions — that harm businesses and the economy.

• States would maintain current UI benefit and eligibility levels.

• The federal deficit would not rise as a result of these policies.

“States face a tremendously urgent crisis when it comes to their unemployment insurance trust funds,” said Michael Leachman, assistant director of the Center’s State Fiscal Project and co-author of the report. “If federal policymakers address this crisis using our plan, employers could save as much as $50 billion in taxes and states would maintain the critical benefits they provide to people who lose their jobs.”

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More Savings If You Have Young Children Or Attend College

STEPHEN OHLEMACHER, Associated Press

WASHINGTON — It’s the most significant new tax law in a decade, but what does it mean for you? Big savings for millions of taxpayers, more if you have young children or attend college, a lot more if you’re wealthy.

 The package, signed Friday by President Barack Obama, will save taxpayers, on average, about $3,000 next year.

 But many families will be able to save much more by taking advantage of tax breaks for being married, having children, paying for child care, going to college or investing in securities. There are even tax breaks for paying local sales taxes and using mass transit, and a new Social Security tax cut for nearly every worker who earns a wage.

Most of the tax cuts have been around since early in the decade. The new law will prevent them from expiring Jan. 1. Others are new, such as the decrease in the Social Security payroll tax. Altogether, they provide a thick menu of opportunities for families at every income level.

“The tax code wants to encourage people to invest in their homes, invest in their education, invest in their retirement, and you have to know about all of these in order to take advantage of it,” said Kathy Pickering, executive director of The Tax Institute at H&R Block.

The law extends most of the tax cuts for two years, including lower rates for the rich, the middle class and the working poor, a $1,000-per-child tax credit, tax breaks for college students and lower taxes on capital gains and dividends. A new one-year tax cut will reduce most workers’ Social Security payroll taxes by nearly a third next year, from 6.2 percent to 4.2 percent.

A mishmash of other tax cuts will be extended through next year. They include deductions for student loans and local sales taxes, and a tax break for using mass transit. The alternative minimum tax will be patched, sparing more than 20 million middle-income families from increases averaging $3,900 in 2010 and 2011.

The $858 billion package also includes $57 billion in renewed jobless benefits for the long-term unemployed.

“I am absolutely convinced that this tax cut plan, while not perfect, will help grow our economy and create jobs in the private sector,” Obama has said. “It will help lift up middle-class families, who will no longer need to worry about a New Year’s Day tax hike. … It includes tax cuts to make college more affordable, help parents provide for their children, and help businesses, large and small, expand and hire.”

At the request of The Associated Press, The Tax Institute at H&R Block developed detailed estimates for how the new law will affect families at various income levels next year:

-A single taxpayer making $50,000 a year who rents an apartment and pays $3,500 in college tuition and fees would save $2,280 in income taxes and $1,000 in Social Security taxes – a total of $3,280.

-A married couple with two young children, some modest investments and combined wages of $100,000, would save $6,256 in income taxes and $2,000 in Social Security taxes – a total of more than $8,200.

Income taxes would be lower because of the lower rates, a $1,000 per child tax credit and a $1,200 tax credit for child care expenses. The couple earns $2,000 in dividends but it would be tax-free at their income level. Wealthier investors would pay a top tax rate of 15 percent on dividends. The couple would also be spared from paying the alternative minimum tax, and would pay lower Social Security payroll taxes.

-A married couple with a child in high school and another in college, combined wages of $170,000 and larger investments would save nearly $7,800 in income taxes and $3,400 in Social Security taxes – a combined savings of nearly $11,200.

Income taxes would be lower because of the lower rates and more generous deductions for state and local income taxes, property taxes, mortgage interest and charitable donations.

Assuming the couple earned $4,000 in qualified dividends and $5,000 in capital gains, that income would be taxed at 15 percent, instead of the higher rates that would have taken effect without the new law.

At their income level, the couple wouldn’t qualify for the child tax credit and would get only $125 from the education tax credit. However, they would save more than $3,600 because they would be largely spared from the AMT.

“One thing generally about the higher income taxpayers is that even though they have a lot of opportunities, they also phase out of a lot of benefits that are designed for lower- to middle-income taxpayers,” said Gil Charney, principal tax analyst at The Tax Institute at H&R Block.WASHINGTON — It’s the most significant new tax law in a decade, but what does it mean for you? Big savings for millions of taxpayers, more if you have young children or attend college, a lot more if you’re wealthy.

The package, signed Friday by President Barack Obama, will save taxpayers, on average, about $3,000 next year.

But many families will be able to save much more by taking advantage of tax breaks for being married, having children, paying for child care, going to college or investing in securities. There are even tax breaks for paying local sales taxes and using mass transit, and a new Social Security tax cut for nearly every worker who earns a wage.

Most of the tax cuts have been around since early in the decade. The new law will prevent them from expiring Jan. 1. Others are new, such as the decrease in the Social Security payroll tax. Altogether, they provide a thick menu of opportunities for families at every income level.

“The tax code wants to encourage people to invest in their homes, invest in their education, invest in their retirement, and you have to know about all of these in order to take advantage of it,” said Kathy Pickering, executive director of The Tax Institute at H&R Block.

The law extends most of the tax cuts for two years, including lower rates for the rich, the middle class and the working poor, a $1,000-per-child tax credit, tax breaks for college students and lower taxes on capital gains and dividends. A new one-year tax cut will reduce most workers’ Social Security payroll taxes by nearly a third next year, from 6.2 percent to 4.2 percent.

A mishmash of other tax cuts will be extended through next year. They include deductions for student loans and local sales taxes, and a tax break for using mass transit. The alternative minimum tax will be patched, sparing more than 20 million middle-income families from increases averaging $3,900 in 2010 and 2011.

The $858 billion package also includes $57 billion in renewed jobless benefits for the long-term unemployed.

“I am absolutely convinced that this tax cut plan, while not perfect, will help grow our economy and create jobs in the private sector,” Obama has said. “It will help lift up middle-class families, who will no longer need to worry about a New Year’s Day tax hike. … It includes tax cuts to make college more affordable, help parents provide for their children, and help businesses, large and small, expand and hire.”

At the request of The Associated Press, The Tax Institute at H&R Block developed detailed estimates for how the new law will affect families at various income levels next year:

-A single taxpayer making $50,000 a year who rents an apartment and pays $3,500 in college tuition and fees would save $2,280 in income taxes and $1,000 in Social Security taxes – a total of $3,280.

-A married couple with two young children, some modest investments and combined wages of $100,000, would save $6,256 in income taxes and $2,000 in Social Security taxes – a total of more than $8,200.

Income taxes would be lower because of the lower rates, a $1,000 per child tax credit and a $1,200 tax credit for child care expenses. The couple earns $2,000 in dividends but it would be tax-free at their income level. Wealthier investors would pay a top tax rate of 15 percent on dividends. The couple would also be spared from paying the alternative minimum tax, and would pay lower Social Security payroll taxes.

-A married couple with a child in high school and another in college, combined wages of $170,000 and larger investments would save nearly $7,800 in income taxes and $3,400 in Social Security taxes – a combined savings of nearly $11,200.

Income taxes would be lower because of the lower rates and more generous deductions for state and local income taxes, property taxes, mortgage interest and charitable donations.

Assuming the couple earned $4,000 in qualified dividends and $5,000 in capital gains, that income would be taxed at 15 percent, instead of the higher rates that would have taken effect without the new law.

At their income level, the couple wouldn’t qualify for the child tax credit and would get only $125 from the education tax credit. However, they would save more than $3,600 because they would be largely spared from the AMT.

“One thing generally about the higher income taxpayers is that even though they have a lot of opportunities, they also phase out of a lot of benefits that are designed for lower- to middle-income taxpayers,” said Gil Charney, principal tax analyst at The Tax Institute at H&R Block.

By Lisa Fleisher/Statehouse Bureau

February 24, 2010, 9:38PM

TRENTON — Gov. Chris Christie Thursday will propose major changes to the state’s broken unemployment system, reducing benefits for workers and limiting tax increases on employers, legislative and administration officials said tonight.

Christie’s proposal, which will need to be passed by the Democrat-controlled Legislature, is aimed at softening a tax hike business groups said was their top concern for the year, while also targeting benefits given to future unemployed workers.

Democratic lawmakers have said they would fight to protect benefits for workers, but they also said increasing taxes employers pay for workers could stunt job growth.

“I am going to have to support some element of what is being put on the table,” said Assembly Speaker Sheila Y. Oliver (D-Essex), who was briefed on the proposal Thursday. But “to have unemployed people, quote, ‘share the burden’ of dealing with our fiscal (problem), it’s like adding insult to injury to devastated New Jerseyans.”

The proposal, which would take effect in July, would reduce tax increases on businesses, institute a one-week waiting period for people receiving benefits, reduce the maximum weekly benefits check by $50 and increase benefit restrictions on people fired for “misconduct,” said Oliver and two senior Christie administration officials, who requested anonymity because they were not authorized to speak before the announcement.

With the state’s jobless rate hovering around 10 percent, the proposal would not affect employees already on unemployment.

Below is a good outline on how unemployment effects the employer.

Unemployment insurance (UI) claims all have some effect on an employer, but the effect will be small or major, depending upon the circumstances. The main determinants of how a UI claim will affect a given employer are:

  1. the type of employing unit involved;
  2. the type of worker involved;
  3. the date of the initial claim;
  4. the length of time worked by the claimant prior to the initial claim;
  5. the amount of wages reported for the claimant prior to the initial claim;
  6. whether the employer was the only base period employer;
  7. the amount of benefits paid to the claimant;
  8. the nature of the work separation; and
  9. the number of employees the company has.

 

  1. Types of Employing Units    

    While anyone who pays a worker for personal services is an “employing unit” under the law, not all employers are liable for unemployment taxes. By the same token, not all money paid for personal services falls under the definition of “wages” that are subject to reporting and UI taxation. For example, a person or company that engages an outside attorney to provide occasional legal advice is an “employing unit”, but does not thereby become an “employer” liable to report the attorney’s fees to TWC as wages and pay UI tax on such earnings. Likewise, some organizations are exempted from wage reporting and tax liability by virtue of special exemptions in the law. Organizations that are liable for wage reporting and UI payments either pay quarterly UI taxes (determined by applying the employer’s tax rate to the first $9,000 of each employee’s earnings in a calendar year) or have reimbursing status (they reimburse TWC dollar for dollar for any UI benefits paid out that are based on wages reported for the claimant). The following list indicates the most common categories of employing units and whether they are or are not liable for wage reporting and UI tax or reimbursement liability:

    1. Customers/clients of independent contractors: such employing units do not report the money they pay to the independent contractors, owe no UI tax on such payments, and have no financial involvement in any UI claims that might be filed by such workers.
    2. Some employing units are too small or pay insufficient wages to be liable under the UI system. For example, a private-sector employing unit that pays less than $1500 in wages in a calendar quarter is exempt (for household/domestic employers, the threshold is $1000 in a calendar quarter). A tax-exempt non-profit organization with fewer than four employees is also exempt from liability. During the period of non-liability, such employing units are treated like the employing units in the first category.
    3. Some employing units have some exempt and some non-exempt employees. For the exempt employees, they are treated just like the employing units in the first category above. For the non-exempt employees, they are treated like any other liable employer – see below. Some organizations, such as churches, have nothing but exempt employees and are non-liable. For a complete list of UI exemptions, see the Texas Labor Code, Chapter 201, Sections 201.042-.078, starting at

    http://www.statutes.legis.state.tx.us/Docs/LA/htm/LA.201.htm#201.042.

  2. Private taxed employers report their employees’ wages, pay quarterly UI tax on such wages (up to the first $9,000 of each employee’s earnings in a calendar year), and have potential financial involvement (chargeback liability) in any UI claims that might be filed by such workers.
  3. Reimbursing employers report their employees’ wages, pay no quarterly UI tax on such wages, and have potential financial involvement (reimbursement liability) in any UI claims that might be filed by such workers.
  4. Taxed group account employers are in a large pool of similar governmental employing units and are treated like private taxed employers, except that any chargebacks are pooled and result in a pooled (shared) UI tax rate.
  5. Non-profit organizations can elect either private taxed employer or reimbursing employer status.

 

  1. Type of Worker Involved    

    As noted above, some workers (independent contractors and employees whose services are exempt from the definition of “employment”) will not involve their employing units financially in a UI claim. All other types of workers have the potential to involve their employing units financially, depending upon whether a particular employing unit reported wages for the claimant during the base period of the claim. Here is a summary of the potential claim liabilities:

      Independent contractors – no wage reporting; no tax, chargeback, or reimbursement liability

    1. UI-exempt employees – no wage reporting; no tax, chargeback, or reimbursement liability
    2. All other workers* – wage reporting; tax liability if the employing unit is not a reimbursing employer; potential chargeback/reimbursement liability depending upon the base period

     

    None of the three categories above affects the right to file an unemployment claim. Any worker who is no longer performing services for pay can file an unemployment claim. Of course, whether the claimant can actually go on from there and draw benefits depends upon whether the claimant meets the monetary eligibility, work separation, and continuing eligibility requirements under the law.

    * The term “all other workers” includes anyone who is not either (a) accurately classified as an independent contractor or (b) an employee whose services are specifically exempted under the UI law. Since there are so many names applied to workers who perform services for pay, it would be impractical to list them all. To illustrate, such a list would include, but not be limited to, probationary employees, new hires, trainees, trial employees, introductory employees, day labor workers, casual employees, temporary employees who are not acquired through a staffing firm, “1099 employees”, “contract labor” workers who are really only misclassified employees, regular employees, full-time employees, part-time employees, PRN staff, “permanent” employees, and seasonal employees. The legal presumption in Texas is that all services are in “employment” and are subject to wage reporting and taxation or reimbursement liability, and the burden of proof is on the employer to show that a particular worker is not in employment.

    However, the term “all other workers” does not include employees of independent contractors, because those workers are employed by the independent contractor, and any UI claims they might file will involve the independent contractor. It also does not include temporary staff assigned by a temporary staffing firm or leased employees assigned by a professional employer organization (PEO, also known as an employee leasing firm), since such employees are employed by the staffing firms that assign them to clients, and any unemployment claims they might file will be the responsibility of those firms. See “Alternatives to Hiring Employees Directly” in Part I of this book.

    Date of the Initial Claim    Top of Page

    The initial claim filing date determines two very important things: the benefit year during which the claimant may file weekly claims, and the base period of the claim. The base period in turn determines the wages that will be used to compute the claimant’s weekly and maximum benefit amounts and which employers will have potential chargeback or reimbursement liability for any benefits paid to the claimant. Below is a chart showing what the base period looks like. Only base period employers have potential financial involvement in a UI claim; non-base period employers have no such liability.

    Base Period
    Quarter 1
    Base Period
    Quarter 2
    Base Period
    Quarter 3
    Base Period
    Quarter 4
    Lag Quarter Quarter In Progress When
    Claim Is Filed
    Included Included Included Included Not Included Not Included

     

    As an example, if an employer hires an employee in February, and lets the employee go after 30 days, and the claimant files an initial claim prior to April 1, then the base period would not include the first quarter of that year (the quarter in progress), nor the fourth quarter of the preceding year (the lag quarter), but would consist of the fourth quarter of the year before the year preceding the current year, and the first three quarters of the year preceding the current year. Since the employer did not report wages during that base period, it will have no financial involvement in the claim. The same would apply if the claimant waited until April, May, or June to file the initial claim – in that case, the base period would omit the second quarter of the current year, the first quarter of the current year, and consist of the four quarters of the preceding year. If the ex-employee files an initial claim after June 30 of the current year, then the employer could be a base period employer, but its chargeback liability would be limited due to having paid only 30 days’ worth of wages (see the next topic).

    Length of Time Worked Prior to the Initial Claim    

    The length of time worked by the claimant prior to the initial claim is important to an employer’s potential financial liability because it helps determine whether the employer falls into the base period of the claim. Generally, if an employee works a short period of time, and files a UI claim fairly soon after losing that short-term job, the employer will not fall into the base period of the claim. The longer the employee works for the employer, the greater the chance is that a subsequent UI claim will involve the employer in the base period. In addition, since an employer’s chargeback liability is directly proportional to the amount of wages it reported during the claimant’s base period, the longer the employee works, the more wages will be reported, and the higher the potential chargeback liability will be. That is why, as a general matter, it is better to separate a clearly unsuitable employee from the company as soon as it becomes clear that the employee will not work out in the long term.

    This factor is closely tied to the concept of a “probationary period”. Although letting someone go during a probationary period will not affect their right to file an unemployment claim by itself, it can help lower the chance that the unemployment claim will involve the employer financially. For more information on probationary periods, see

    “Probationary Periods” in Part II of this book.

    Amount of Wages Reported for the Claimant Prior to the Initial Claim    

    This factor is very closely related to the length of time worked by the claimant prior to the initial claim. The higher the wage amount for the claimant during the base period is, the higher the potential chargeback liability will be.

    Whether the Employer was the Only Base Period Employer    

    Chargeback/reimbursement liability also depends upon whether an employer was the only employer that reported wages for the claimant, or was one of two or more base period employers. An employer’s chargeback liability percentage is directly proportional to the amount of wages it reported for the claimant during the base period, measured against the total wages reported by all employers during the base period. As an example, if employer A paid 100% of the base period wages, it will have 100% of the chargeback/reimbursement liability. If A paid one-third of the wages, it will have one-third of the liability.

    Amount of Benefits Paid to the Claimant    

    This factor, along with an employer’s chargeback percentage as explained above, determines the amount of the actual chargebacks. To determine the amount, TWC multiplies the chargeback percentage by the amount of benefits the claimant ultimately draws. If the claimant draws half of the potential maximum benefit amount, each base period employer’s liability will be half of what it could have been, had the claimant drawn the maximum potential amount.

    Nature of the Work Separation    Top of Page

    The nature of the work separation goes directly to the issue of whether the claimant will be qualified or disqualified for UI benefits. If the work separation was disqualifying, the claimant will not be able to draw UI benefits, which of course will affect the employer’s financial liability for the claim. The first thing TWC does in every UI claim (after determining monetary eligibility) is determine the issue of whether the work separation was voluntary or involuntary, and then whether it was qualifying or disqualifying. A voluntary work separation is one that was initiated by the employee, and an involuntary work separation is one that was initiated by the employer. The burden of proof on the work separation issue depends upon who initiated the work separation. For a detailed look at how TWC analyzes work separations, see “Types of Work Separations” in Part III of this book.

    In a case involving a voluntary work separation, the claimant will try to prove that he or she had good cause connected with the work to quit, and the employer must be prepared to show that continued work was available when the claimant left and that a reasonable employee would not have quit for such a reason. In a case with an involuntary work separation, the employer has the burden of proving two main things: that the discharge resulted from a specific act of misconduct connected with the work that happened close in time to the discharge, and that the claimant either knew or should have known that discharge could occur for such a reason.

    Number of Employees    

    For private taxed employers, the number of employees is important because it determines the size of the employer’s taxable wage base, which is generally the number of employees multiplied by $9,000 (the figure could be lower if some employees do not earn at least that much in the calendar year). A small company will have a small taxable wage base and will experience a proportionally higher impact from a single UI claim than a larger employer with more employees and a higher taxable wage base. For details on how TWC calculates UI tax rates for private taxed employers (the vast majority of employers in Texas), see this Web page:

    http://www.twc.state.tx.us/ui/tax/uitaxrates.html.

    Conclusion

    It should be clear from the above information that there are many factors that determine how a given UI claim will impact a particular employer. While some are more under the control of employers than others, all of them are important to understand. Each claim has the potential to affect an employer’s financial bottom line, and an employer interested in controlling its labor costs will pay attention to every detail.

    As published in Especially for Texas Employers

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