The Worker’s Guide to Unemployment Insurance, that the Unemployment Compensation Appeals Clinic prepares, has just been updated and includes most of the changes in unemployment law that affect claimants. Get a copy ASAP.
DWD offered up two documents describing the upcoming changes to unemployment law. One is 21 pp. and covers Act 20, Act 36, and the WorkShare legislation (makes UI available to employees that work reduced hours for an employer who opts for this benefit for its employees). The other is a 5 pp. table listing the change at issue, the effective date, the new/changed statute or administrative rule, and the source of the change.
Legislators continue to introduce legislation. There is a bill to provide benefits to employees out of work because of a strike by others. The strike a few years back at Manitowoc Crane presented this exact situation, and DWD indicated in an attached memo that LIRC ruled in that case for making the affected workers eligible for UI benefits. DWD’s fiscal analysis indicates a cost of almost $800,000. Given that LIRC ruled in the employee’s favor, it seems that the bill’s cost is actually minimal — the administrative costs of implementation.
Second, SB273 proposes that DWD provide calling assistance and information for folks needing information about their equal rights, workers’ compensation, and unemployment cases. The fiscal impact is under $200,000. Not discussed much is that DWD supposedly has claim specialists dedicated to answering these kinds of questions by phone (for now).
SB276 creates a new independent contractor test for workers compensation and unemployment law that basically makes someone working from home under a written agreement an independent contractor. Yes, the language is that broad, and it would be a major change in both areas of law. The fiscal impact could be $5 million plus and employers would still be hit with additional federal unemployment taxes, as this language runs afoul of federal requirements.
Finally, AB374 seeks to eliminate the one-week waiting period — claimants must now wait one week without benefits before receiving their first check — that was implemented last year. The fiscal impact would lead to a $45 million increase in benefits being paid out and so also lead to an increase in employer taxes. The net impact on the trust fund is estimated to be $28 million.
DWD also announced that emergency regs for DWD 126, DWD 127, and DWD 129 went to Gov. Walker the day of the meeting. DWD hopes to get these rules implemented in early October (more on these new rules in another post). Then hearings on permanent rules will take place with the goal of making the rules permanent by the middle of next year.
The first of these requirements is that unemployment claimants who file initial claims on or after October 13, 2013, and who do not have their job search waived must also create and have active accounts on the Job Center of Wisconsin website.
Lack of computer access does not appear to excuse this requirement. And, this requirement remains regardless of other job search sites you might be using.
So, anyone who begins an unemployment claim or who must start searching for work on or after October 13th will need to register with the state’s official job search web site. Failing to register will mean no unemployment benefits will be paid until the registration is complete.