The small print for the on-line only announcement, however, indicates that the phone system will still be available until some future unknown date. Since the on-line system is still English-only, federal requirements for ensuring access indicate that limiting access to an English-only on-line system could be a major problem.
Methods of Providing Access. For languages spoken by a significant number or proportion of the eligible service population, individuals should be able to learn about, apply for, and maintain eligibility in the relevant language(s) for every program delivery avenue (i.e., online, in person, and/or phone). The state agency should also ensure it has reasonable methods in place for identifying and reaching other LEP individuals who speak a language that is not spoken by a significant number or proportion of the eligible service population. As state UI agencies move to almost exclusively website-driven services, there is an increased likelihood that LEP individuals will face barriers to accessing information and claims-related access in violation of Title VI and regulations promulgated by WIA, as amended, and WIOA, and as described above.
UIPL No. 02-16, State Responsibilities for Ensuring Access to Unemployment Insurance Benefits at 8. So, claimants should continue to use the phone system, especially when the on-line system can be used to entrap claimants into concealment for nothing more than a claim-filing mistake.
Back in December 2015, legislators voiced concerns about the limitations to an 8 or 12 week maximum on work search waivers that went into effect this winter and wanted a return to the old waivers that lasted the winter season.
A senate bill to return work search waivers to the old, season long length has been proposed. Unfortunately, this senate bill was introduced just as the assembly was wrapping up its business for the year. So, even if the senate passes this bill, the only way for the assembly to pass it as well is if a special session is called to return assembly members to Madison to pass this bill. Such action is unlikely.
So, expect the 8 and 12 week maximums on work search waivers to continue into next winter as well.
Finally, there is a FAQ on UI concealment. The concealment examples are not really examples but very basic descriptions dating from 2011. Strangely, there are two questions in this FAQ on employers “aiding and abetting” claimant fraud. There is only one Wisconsin case on employer aiding and abetting that I am aware of, however. That case was easily dismissed. But, employers should note that as claimant concealment expands, employers will be dragged into these concealment cases via this “aiding and abetting” provision.
At the 17 December 2015, several legislative proposals affecting unemployment benefits were described to the Advisory Council. This legislation includes:
Returning work search waivers to what previously existed — Employees and employers have begun to voice concerns about how the limitations on work search waivers previously approved by the Advisory Council do not make sense for Wisconsin. No immediate change to the current work search waivers will happen, however. And, whether Wisconsin ever returns to the original rules is uncertain. For instance, there was extended discussion by council members of perhaps allowing employers to designate certain employees for longer waivers because of their skills or high value to the employer but leaving other employees to the now 8/12 week waiver maximum. Seemy own comments on the proposed regulations.
UI law changes in order to counter recent NLRB decisions — Legislators want to pass legislation that will supposedly undo a recent NLRB decision called Browning-Ferris Industries that re-defined the test for determining when the employees of one company will be treated as the employees of another company (e.g., when the employees of a franchisee or temp agency are really the employees of the franchisor or client company because the franchisor or client company sets the terms and conditions of employment for the employees). NOTE: unemployment is not mentioned once in the decision, so the applicability and purpose — let alone its effectiveness — of the state law changes in this proposed legislation are muddled at best. And, as DWD notes in its memo, the changes could be extremely problematic for some Wisconsin employers.