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Properly Notify Separated Employees of Unemployment Benefits

By May 2, 2023September 13th, 2023No Comments

In 2022, the United States (U.S.) Bureau of Labor Statistics found that of people who worked in the 12 months prior, only one quarter (26%) applied for unemployment insurance (UI) benefits. Of those who did not apply, more than half (55%) did not apply because they were under the impression that they were not eligible for benefits.

To be clear—these statistics represent a failure on multiple fronts, including a lack of public education regarding who is eligible for UI benefits, and how to navigate the application process.

However, employers can and should take an active role in helping separated employees access benefits by informing them of their rights to apply and providing them with the information needed to start the process. Doing so isn’t just the right thing to do—it’s a legal obligation in many states.

Employee Separation Notice Requirements (State-By-State)

Different states have different requirements governing the employee separation process. While many states require that employers provide former employees with a written notification of their right to apply for UI benefits—the specific requirements of that notification, as well as the deadlines that employers must meet when sending it, vary state by state.

The following states have specific procedures that employers must follow when an employee separates. This list is up to date as of April 2023.

Arizona: Employers in Arizona must provide separated employees with a printed statement containing information on how to file for unemployment benefits. Pamphlet  UIB-1241A satisfies this requirement.

California: Employers in California must provide separated employees with a copy of the state’s DE 2320 pamphlet. This pamphlet provides detailed information on the state’s UI program— including who should file for UI, when to file, and how to file a claim. California’s notice also includes educational information on eligibility determination, as well as how to navigate the appeals process or cancel a claim.

Colorado: Colorado employers must provide separated employees with a notice that includes information on how to file a UI claim, employer contact information, and the reason why the employee was separated. The state provides a fillable form that employers can use to easily meet this requirement.

Connecticut: Employers in Connecticut must provide separated employees with the state’s Unemployment Separation Package. This package includes a Separation Notice (UC-61) that provides information, instructions, and forms to help recently severed employees file for UI benefits.

Georgia: Georgia employers must complete a signed Separation Notice and provide a copy to the separated employee either by hand or by mail to their last known address. This notice includes instructions and information to help separated employees apply for UI benefits.

Illinois: Employers in Illinois must provide employees with  Form CLI111L after they have been separated for seven or more days. The form should be given to former employees at their work site, or mailed to their last known address within five calendar days of separation.

Iowa: In Iowa, if an employee leaves or quits and an employer believes they are not qualified for UI benefits, the employer must file a Notice of Separation Form 60-0154.

Maryland: Whenever an employee separation occurs, employers in Maryland must provide the former employee with a notice of unemployment availability through letter, email, or text. This packet provides information explaining UI eligibility, as well as instructions on how to apply for benefits.

Massachusetts: Massachusetts employers must provide separated employees with Form 0590-A, either in person or by mailing it to the employee’s last known address within 30 days of separation. The form contains instructions on how to file for UI benefits and a list of information needed to file a claim.

Missouri: Upon separation, employers in Missouri must provide employees with Form M-INF-288-5, which includes detailed instructions on how to file a UI claim.

Nevada: Employers in Nevada must give Notice DETR-ESD to all separating employees at the time of job termination. This form includes basic information informing employees of their right to file for UI, as well as instructions on how to file.

New Jersey: Employers in New Jersey must provide Form BC-10 to all separated employees at the time of separation, regardless of if the separation is permanent or temporary. The form includes information alerting employees of the availability of UI benefits, as well as notification that the employee may lose some or all benefits if the claim is not filed on time.

New York: Employers in New York must provide all separated employees with  Form IA12.3. On this form, employers must note the reason for separation and if the separation is permanent or temporary, as well as their state Employer Identification Number and mailing address for payroll records.

Pennsylvania: Pennsylvania employers are required to notify separated employees of UI availability using Form UC-1609. This form includes information that can help a laid-off employee apply for UI compensation—including the employer’s state unemployment compensation account number, address, and contact information.

Rhode Island: Employers in Rhode Island are required to alert separated employees of the availability of UI benefits. Rhode Island’s law allows employers to give notice through several formats, including but not limited to a flyer, text, email, letter, or other communication. Details of the notice requirements can be found here.

South Carolina: Employers in South Carolina must provide separated employees with an official Notification of the Availability of Unemployment Insurance Benefits. The form can be given in person upon separation or sent by mail, text message, or email.

Tennessee: Within 24 hours of separation, employers in Tennessee must provide Form LB-0489 to all employees who were employed for more than one week. It includes instructions on how to apply for UI benefits, as well as information on the employee’s wages and reason for termination.

What should an employee separation notice include?

As a first line of contact, employers play a critical role in informing separated employees of their eligibility for UI benefits and preparing them to start the UI application process.

While employers in the states listed above must stay aware of and meet their state’s legally mandated separation notice requirements—there are some simple best practices that all employers can follow to ensure that recently laid-off employees feel empowered in navigating the UI application process.

Information on who should file a UI Claim.

Separation notices should include information that helps the employee understand if they are eligible for UI benefits, and that informs them of their rights and responsibility under state law.

Specifically, notices should inform employees that they are eligible for UI benefits if they have met their state’s work history and base wage requirements, and if they are:

  • Totally or partially unemployed
  • Unemployed through no fault of their own
  • Physically able to work
  • Available for work
  • Ready and willing to accept work immediately.
  • Actively looking for work

Information on when to file, waiting periods, and ineligibility.

Separation notices should inform employees that they may apply for UI benefits as soon as they are unemployed, or as soon as their work hours are reduced. Employers operating in states that have “waiting weeks” should inform employees of this one-week, unpaid waiting period, and let them know that the waiting period doesn’t begin until they file a claim, certify for benefits, and meet all eligibility requirements.

Information needed to file a UI claim.

To file for UI benefits, employees need access to specific, updated information, including:

  • The name, address, and phone number of their state UI agency
  • The deadline for filing a claim for UI benefits
  • The steps that the employee must take to file a claim for UI benefits (including information on how to log on to their state unemployment agency’s website)
  • Their former employer’s complete name, address (mailing and physical location), and phone number
  • Their work start date, date of separation, and reason for separation
  • Their employer’s state unemployment account number
  • Severance pay information (if applicable)
  • Union information (if applicable)

When employees are separated, employers should immediately provide them with this information to help expedite the UI application process and avoid any appeals that might occur as a result of employees using inaccurate information.

Why should employers give a separation notice?

Unemployment insurance is a critical social safety net that can help financially support workers while they are between jobs—but employees must understand their eligibility and be equipped with updated information in order to apply for and receive benefits. Creating separation notice guidelines that align with state laws and account for the public’s limited knowledge of UI can help your organization stay in compliance—while helping employees understand these valuable benefits.

When using Third-Party Administrators to Handle Claims

Often employers outsource the handling of their UI claims to a third-party administrator (TPA). If this is the case at your organization then the TPA’s address needs to be listed on the separation notice.

Often when individuals file, they are presented with a drop-down menu of potential companies along with their addresses. For those using a TPA, that organization’s claims-handling mailing address will be listed as the address of record. This unexpected address can be a source of confusion for both the employer and the employee. Putting it on the separation notice will help alleviate any concerns and help ensure the employee chooses the correct address for the claim notification.

There are also states where an employee seeking benefits may need to enter an address manually. Providing the employee with the correct address at the time of separation can help ensure the claims go to the TPA and NOT the employer.

501 member organizations can contact us at any time with questions regarding employee separation and claims management.

Interested in outsourcing your unemployment claims or becoming a reimbursing employer? Contact us today.

501 members and subscribers have unlimited access to HR Services. Contact us anytime regarding this subject or any other HR challenge you may be facing.

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The information contained in this article is not a substitute for legal advice or counsel and has been pulled from multiple sources.

(Image by carlos pereyra from Pixabay)

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