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UPDATE: New Florida Unemployment Reform Law

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UPDATE: New Florida Unemployment Reform Law

Post by jj on Wed Aug 17, 2011 7:52 pm

UNEMPLOYMENT COMPENSATION REFORM LAW
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS



DURATION OF BENEFITS
What is the maximum number of weeks of regular state benefits available in Florida?
Effective January 1, 2012: •The duration of benefits adjusts from the current maximum of 26 weeks to a range from 12 to 23 weeks, based upon the average unemployment rate in Florida for the third calendar quarter of the previous year.

•For example, the maximum number of weeks for 2012 will be based on the average unemployment rate in Florida for July, August and September 2011.
•When the average unemployment rate is 5 percent or less, the maximum duration of benefits will be 12 weeks.
•For each half-percent increase in the average unemployment, an additional week will be added to the calculation of the benefit duration beginning January 1 of the following calendar year.
•Should the average unemployment rate reach 10.5 percent or higher, a maximum of 23 weeks would be payable on a claim established during the following calendar year.

When will the agency calculate the average unemployment rate and the maximum number of weeks available?

The average unemployment rate will be calculated once per year - on the third Friday in November using the average unemployment rate for the 3rd quarter of that year. Once that rate is determined, that rate will establish the level of benefits for the next calendar year.

Will federal extensions of benefits be affected by this new law?

The change in the duration of unemployment compensation benefits is effective as of January 1, 2012. Therefore, this legislation will not affect claimants currently receiving benefits through federal extensions. The current eligibility period for claimants entering Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC) ends December 25, 2011, and continued eligibility for EUC and Extended Benefits (EB) ends on January 1, 2012. Any EUC tier generated prior to January 2, 2012 will not be affected by this new law.

The last payable EUC week is the week ending is June 9, 2012. The last payable EB week is the week ending January 7, 2012.


ONLINE FILING
Can I still file for benefits by phone or mail?

Effective August 1, 2011, you must file initial and continued claims electronically at www.floridajobs.org. These services will not be available by telephone or mail. AWI’s unemployment compensation hotline will still be available to answer questions about the filing process.


SEVERENCE PAY
Can I receive severance pay and unemployment compensation benefits simultaneously?

Effective August 1, 2011, if your severance pay per week is equal to or greater than your weekly benefit amount, you are not entitled to benefits for that week.

There is no reduction in the amount of total UC benefits (credits) that can be paid on the claim. For example, if you were determined eligible for $6,325 of available benefits (credits), you will still be eligible for that same amount unless your benefit year expires before you exhaust that total.


WORK SEARCH REQUIREMENTS
How many work search contacts must I make each week?

Effective August 1, 2011, you are required on a weekly basis to make contact with five potential employers and provide this information via the Internet during your bi-weekly certification for benefits. A quick, efficient way to contact employers is by using the Employ Florida Marketplace at employflorida.com, the state’s online job matching system where you can search thousands of job postings and apply for jobs.

If you are not able to make at least five employer contacts in a week, meeting with a representative at your local One-Stop Career Center for reemployment services may satisfy this requirement for that week.

Am I required to participate in the initial skills review?

If you are establishing a new unemployment claim, reopening an existing claim or filing an additional claim on or after August 1, 2011, you must complete an initial online skills review unless you are unable to complete such a review due to illiteracy or because you speak a language other than English or Spanish. The results of the review will be used by your local One-Stop Career Center to assist in your job search efforts.


METHOD OF PAYMENT
Can I continue to receive my unemployment compensation benefits via paper check?

If you are receiving your benefits via paper check as of July 1, 2011, you can continue to receive checks for the remainder of your claim. However, if you elect to change from checks to direct deposit or Florida Unemployment Compensation Debit Card prior to the expiration of your claim, you will not be able to return to payments via check.

All individuals establishing a new unemployment claim, filing additional claims or reopening an existing claim on or after July 1, 2011 must receive benefits through either Florida Unemployment Compensation Debit Card or direct deposit to your bank account.


DISQUALIFICATION
Can I be disqualified for benefits for something that happens outside of work?

Yes, the definition of misconduct has been amended to provide that misconduct can be found to have occurred in connection with a job whether or not it happens at the workplace or during working hours. Misconduct is no longer restricted to “a willful or wanton disregard of an employer’s interests,” but “a conscious disregard of an employer’s interests and found to be in deliberate violation or disregard of the reasonable standards of behavior which the employer expects of employees.”

The law provides that certain circumstances are misconduct. These include, but are not limited to: ◦Chronic absenteeism or tardiness;
◦Willful and deliberate violation of a standard or regulation which would jeopardize the employer’s Florida license or certification;
◦Violation of an employer’s rule under certain circumstances.

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For more information on the UC changes included in the Unemployment Compensation Reform Law, please visit http://www.myfloridahouse.gov/Sections/Bills/billsdetail.aspx?BillId=45686

http://www.floridajobs.org/Unemployment/UC_faqs_2011ReformLaw.htm
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Online Filing and Certification of Weeks – Initial and continued claims must be filed over the Internet. The change will improve government efficiency and provide a projected $4.7 million savings annually in administrative costs. AWI’s unemployment compensation hotline will still be available to answer questions about the filing process.

Work Search – Claimants are required on a weekly basis to contact five potential employers and provide this information via the Internet during their bi-weekly certification for benefits. A quick, efficient way to contact employers is by using the Employ Florida Marketplace at employflorida.com, the state’s online job matching system where you can search thousands of job postings and apply for jobs.

If a claimant is not able to make at least five employer contacts in a week, meeting with a representative at the local One-Stop Career Center for reemployment services may satisfy this requirement for that week.

Skills Review – In order to receive benefits, claimants filing new claims must complete an initial skills review over the Internet. The results of the review will be used by local One-Stop Career Centers to assist claimants with job searches.

Severance Pay – If a claimant’s severance pay per week is equal to or greater than the claimant’s weekly benefit amount, the claimant is not entitled to benefits for that week. Severance pay does not impact the total amount of benefits that can be paid on the claim.

This change is projected to save the state’s Unemployment Compensation Trust Fund an estimated $103 million annually.
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jj
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