A few weeks ago there were media reports about legislators circulating a bill to allow employees who quit or are discharged for refusing a vaccine to qualify for unemployment benefits.
Well, they actually did it. Meet SB 547. The bill creates a host of exemptions for those workers who refuse vaccines and lose their jobs as a result to qualify for unemployment benefits. The legislators even included a provision automatically to waive charges to employer accounts for unemployment benefits paid out to those refusing a vaccine, something the legislators failed to do in 2020 for pandemic-related job losses.
Think of all the other issues that have been ignored by the state legislature during the past year and half that have made unemployment more difficult for Wisconsin workers.
- access to regular unemployment benefits for disabled workers,
- having to quit a job for lack of childcare, like when schools close (instead, workers who lose jobs because of childcare need to argue they quit for good cause because of the illegal actions of the employer, that the employer has violated a basic term and condition of employment established for the job, or give up on claiming regular unemployment benefits and shift to PUA benefits, which end this week),
- having to quit a job because the employer is ignoring public health orders (only available to PUA claimants),
- waiving requirements that employees who are quarantined or sick with Covid-19 symptoms must still be able and available for work and must still search for jobs (these requirements were part of the job search waiver emergency rule that the legislature went out of its way to nix),
- granting an automatic experience rating waiver for all job losses during the pandemic (as happened in nearly all other states) and which has been so messed up in Wisconsin that few employers even know about it, and
- forcing the state unemployment agency to adopt one of the quarterly benefit waiver provisions to ease the quarterly benefit year eligibility re-calculation problem that puts a halt to benefit payments each quarter
There are so many, many issues that could and need to be addressed. Unemployment benefits for those refusing a vaccine is NOT one of them.
Finally, there is a claim-filing snafu on the portal today. Claimants are being told that they have already filed their weekly certification for PUA benefits for the week ending 9/4/2021 on Sept. 3rd.
Normally, the laws of time are that future events need to occur in the future, not in the past. But, for some unknown reason, the claim portal is telling PUA claimants that they have already filed their weekly certification for a week not yet over — the last week PUA benefits are available.
The PUA phone support line is 608-318-7100.
In any case, if you have not done so already, make sure to read the post about filing a back-up PUA initial claim (not the same as a weekly certification).