DOL Releases Unemployment System Regulatory Proposal
The Connecticut Department of Labor released a proposed regulation Nov. 21 that helps implement the historic 2021 unemployment compensation system reforms that take effect Jan. 1, 2024.
While mostly technical in nature, the regulatory proposal is needed to implement and provide additional clarity for those reforms.
For example, section 31-236-26d(f) clarifies a reform long sought by the business community.
It notes that after Jan. 1, 2024, any absence without good cause for absence from work or without notice for two or more consecutive days, each day shall constitute a separate instance of absenteeism.
Formerly, an instance of absenteeism could be one day or two consecutive days, which caused confusion for some employers dealing with employees that abandoned their jobs.
Another important clarification can be found in Section 31-235-23, which deals with methods of satisfying work search requirements for benefit claimants.
Existing regulations list eight ways work search requirements can be satisfied, including applying for a job, attending a workshop at an American Job Center, creating a reemployment plan, or uploading a resume to the state’s Job Bank.
The poposed regulation contains a line clarifying that a claimant must have contact with a potential employer to satisfy work search requirements.
This is a sensible requirement that deserves additional clarification via regulation.
CBIA worked with the Lamont administration, Republican and Democratic lawmakers, and organized labor in 2021 to develop much-needed unemployment system reforms.
During the pandemic, the labor department borrowed $1.2 billion from the federal government to satisfy the massive number of unemployment benefit claims.
Just as with the billion-dollar loan needed in the wake of the 2008-2009 recession, employers were again liable for repaying this debt.
The two separate billion-dollar-plus loans in a little over a decade was the impetus needed for lawmakers to address reform calls from CBIA and other business groups.
The bipartisan reforms passed into law through Public Act 21-200 overhauled eligibility requirements and benefits:
- Benefits paid to a claimant through the state’s voluntary Shared Work program during periods of high unemployment shall not be charged to experience rated base period employers.
- A claimant’s receipt of severance pay now results in disqualification from receiving UI benefits for the period of time covered by the payment.
- A claimant’s receipt of accrued vacation pay at the time of dismissal will not disqualify the claimant from receiving UI benefits, if otherwise eligible. However, vacation pay issued to a claimant during a shutdown period will result in a disqualification or reduction in benefits.
- The minimum weekly benefit payment increases from $15 to $40 and will be subsequently indexed annually due to inflation. However, the minimum benefit will revert to $15 when the federal government provides a fully federally funded supplement to the individual’s weekly benefit amount.
- The minimum base period earnings requirement increases from $600 to $1,600 and will be subsequently indexed annually to inflation.
- However, the minimum base period earnings requirement will revert to $600 when the federal government provides a fully federally funded supplement to the individual’s weekly benefit amount.
- Each day of absence without either good cause or notice to the employer constitutes a “separate instance” of willful misconduct.
- The maximum benefit rate will be frozen during the four years from October 2024 through October 2028.
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