Registration with Job Center of Wisconsin mandatory on Oct. 13th

Wisconsin DWD is beginning to institute a host of job search and registration requirements as part of the new budget law, Act 20, and the new unemployment law, Act 36.

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.

DWD has created a FAQ about this registration requirement. You can also download a PDF of the FAQ as well.

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.

Switch from google groups

Here is the message just posted at the Google group from where this blog originated:

Future posts on unemployment issues in Wisconsin will be at a wordpress blog called Wisconsin Unemployment.  Since I have been the only person posting to this group, it does not make sense to keep this group going.  Instead, I will start posting updates on unemployment issues at Wisconsin Unemployment.

Look for the posts there to start up fast and furious soon as I start to delve into all the new unemployment changes that were passed in June.

My good friend, Jessie Ramey at Yinzercation, suggested the switch to wordpress.

– Victor Forberger

New job search requirements go into effect

DWD has begun implementing the new job search requirements that went into effect with the budget act.

You now need to apply for work with four employers each week you claim benefits. And, you will need to keep these job search records for 52 weeks.

DWD has created a specific form — UCB-12 — for recording your job search efforts. You can download various versions of this form at this link.

Independent contractors in Wisconsin UI proceedings

Here is a brief I will be using for training purposes for the unemployment clinic here in Madison. It runs through the basic issues relating to deciding whether a claimant is an employee or an independent contractor. The test is still extremely difficult to meet.

Moreover, the case registers basic procedural and substantive problems with how independent contractor cases are currently handled in Wisconsin. Simply put, Wisconsin unemployment law leads to duplicate and unnecessary proceedings in regards to independent contractor determinations for both employees and employers in ways that are frustrating for both. While much is at present being changed in unemployment law in Wisconsin, real problems that the businesses and residents of Wisconsin have in regards to independent contractor issues and the ensuing long, complicated, and often unnecessary hearings over these issues are not even being mentioned.

In the case at issue in the brief, there was little at stake for either party, but four hours of hearings and now a LIRC appeal has taken place.

In this situation, both the claimant and the employer are probably justified in disputing how independent contractor law in unemployment cases are handled. The claimant in this matter has had to deal with DWD investigations not only for the $500 at issue in this case but $200 earned from serving in a chorus in a show. The employer is stuck with any of its freelancers being subject to UI taxes and an intrusive DWD examining all of its employees.

Until this portion of UI law changes once again, there are ways for making these kinds of cases a little less problematic and burdensome for all involved. What the attached brief does in part is demonstrate the circumstances and issues that employers and employees need to be aware of before simply fighting each other.

UPDATE available.

Short descriptions of the new UI changes in Wisconsin

Here is a table listing all of the UI changes at issue by bill and the effective date of the proposed change. In addition, here is a two-page description of the relevant changes in unemployment law.

Because the quit exceptions will matter for all determinations after January 5, 2014, and because many of those quit exceptions cover quits with secondary employers, I believe claimants should now presume these changes have already taken effect before quitting a job in the next few months.

For example, suppose a claimant quits a part-time job right now, loses his or her full-time job in February 2014, and subsequently files a claim for unemployment benefits. Because exception (7)(k), quit a part-time job, will no longer exist in February 2014, he or she will be disqualified from benefits unless he or she can show that the quit from the part-time job was for a good cause.

In other words, people who think that current law still applies are wrong. Instead, they need to act right now as if the proposed law is in effect. Only if they know they will not file an unemployment claim in
the next year and a quarter can they safely quit a second job today and not worry about the impact of that quit on unemployment benefits from their primary job.

Advisory Council — 2 May 2013 meeting — and legislative actions today

Belated notes on the last meeting of the advisory council and recent legislative events.

At this meeting, Jim Buchen for WMC was replaced by Scott Manley, a WMC VP.

The council then took action on the following items.

D-06 — Dep’t error redefined to exclude computer error / new COA for collection Approved by the council at this meeting after originally being declined.

D-08 — Claimants providing DWD with information
The council amended this proposal to make Wis. Stat. § 108.04(1)(hm) applicable to all information requests to claimants from the Department and to make restore claimants’ eligibility to the date of the original benefit suspension once the information is provided. There will no longer be a requirement that there be good cause for the delay. Wis. Stat. § 108.04(1)(i) is repealed.

Legislators items #25 (temp agency employment offers), #27 (Loan to cover UI interest), #28 (Holiday limits on UI eligibility), #30 (Link eligibility weeks to unemployment rate), and #31 (Additional tax brackets for high experience employers) were declined by the council. The council, however, also indicated that it had no objection to the bill already drafted that essentially implemented item #27.

WASS letter
The Council also considered a letter from the Wisconsin Association of Staffing Services to raise the current taxable base wage from $14,000 to $28,000 while effectively halving current tax rates and the Department’s response/analysis of that proposal. The short answer is that the Department finds that the higher taxable base wage would lead to greater revenues over the long-term. Low-wage employers would pay slightly less in UI taxes. Higher wage employers would most likely see a noticeable increase in their UI taxes.

Last week, LRB-drafted bills representing these recommended changes by the council were introduced and scheduled for committee hearings that took place today. A quick glance at the bill indicates that many of these changes will become effective on June 30th of this year.

In addition, the Joint Finance Committee took up the Department and Legislative proposals that the council did NOT adopt. WisPolitics Budget blog has what information is available to me:

> Here are some highlights of the UI package:
>
> -it would reduce payments to those on unemployment by $14.1 million
> in 2013-14 and $23.1 million in 2014-15 by changing rules regarding
> voluntary termination of work, misconduct and substantial fault, work
> search, and reduced partial benefits during holidays.
>
> -employers would pay $17.2 million more in unemployment taxes in
> 2014-15 and $32 million annually thereafter. But they would also see
> reduced interest payments to the federal government of $19 million in
> 2013-14 and $7 million in 2014-15.
>
> -the reduced interest payments would occur because the state would
> provide up to $30 million to pay interest on loans from the federal
> government to cover unemployment payments.
>
> – the state also could provide a loan of up to $50 million to the
> unemployment fund in 2014 to lower the tax rate employers pay as the
> state seeks to pull the fund out of the red. The federal unemployment
> tax administration credit, which lowers the rates employers pay if
> their states have positive fund balances, is calculated on Nov. 9 of
> each year. Because the state is expected to have a positive balance
> on that day, employers would avoid $191 million in additional taxes
> without the transfer.

This afternoon, these changes were approved on a party-line vote.

To see a description of the quit changes and the new substantial fault standard, see the relevant pages in this memo.

As many of you have suggested, some kind of training regarding all of these changes is needed. Given the extent of what is happening, I’m not sure where to start. June will be a busy month.