Unemployment Comp Reforms in Focus
The legislature’s Labor Committee held a public hearing in New Haven this week, looking at several proposals the business community opposes—and some that could bring about positive reforms in Connecticut.
Employers in Connecticut have been wracked by high unemployment compensation taxes for years, due to the impact of the Great Recession—and the fact that this state’s benefits are far more generous than other states’.
HB 5367 is the business community’s unemployment benefit reform bill. It would help make the state’s system less costly and more effective by:
- Raising the minimum earnings to qualify for unemployment benefits to $2,000. Currently, claimants in Connecticut need only earn $600 in a year to qualify for benefits.
- Requiring claimants to post their resumes online to receive benefits after six consecutive weeks of unemployment.
- Basing benefits on an employee’s annual salary rather than two highest quarters, to avoid inequitably rewarding seasonal workers.
- Freezing the maximum weekly benefit rate for three years. The maximum benefit rate is allowed to increase by $18 every year.
Meanwhile, the legislature’s Government Administration and Elections Committee also is looking at system reforms, approving one of those updates.
In a near-unanimous vote, the committee approved SB 100, which would raise the minimum earnings needed to qualify for unemployment benefits from $600 to $2,000.
The last time this threshold—now third-lowest in the U.S.—was updated was in 1967.
Claimants only have to earn $600 in a year to qualify for unemployment benefits in Connecticut, but 32 other states and territories require between $2,000 and $5,000 in earnings.
CBIA encourages lawmakers to adopt SB 100 as well as other system reforms contained in HB 5367.
Of course, it wasn’t all good news from the Labor Committee on the unemployment front.
The committee also raised some harmful unemployment bills.
SB 314 would allow certain people to continue to collect unemployment benefits, even after they’ve returned to work.
While the goal of the bill is to encourage people to get back into the workplace, this would increase costs for businesses who have already incurred years of unemployment tax increases.
Connecticut needs to adopt the reforms our neighboring states have made, not add more benefits.
HB 5369 would change the way the maximum weekly unemployment benefit is calculated.
Naturally, advocates want to base it off a wage that is higher than the one currently used for such calculations.
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