How Should Companies Respond to a SUI Unemployment Claim?
When your business receives a state unemployment insurance (SUI) claim, it's imperative that you respond in a timely and comprehensive manner. Yet many businesses are unsure of what to do. SUI is designed to provide temporary financial assistance to individuals who became unemployed through no fault of their own — for example, staff who are laid off during a downsizing. However, former employees who were fired for cause may file for unemployment. It's up to employers to monitor claims and respond in a timely fashion if they wish to protest those claims. Active claims management can help ensure that you avoid expensive penalties and retain your rights, while controlling SUI costs.
Responding to a Claim
When an employee files an unemployment claim, the state agency where the employee resides will send a request for more information to former employers. Each states sets its own regulations regarding the period of time it evaluates, but it often covers a period of approximately 15 months (or five quarters) prior to the claim filing date. The employers are asked to provide basic employment and wage information, as well as details regarding the separation circumstances. If the separation occurred with cause, such as employee misconduct, an employer typically protests the claim at this time.
Understanding the Appeals Process
It's up to the state agency overseeing the claim to determine whether a claim is approved or denied. If a claim is approved, protesting employers will be notified and receive a statutory period to file an appeal. Filing an appeal typically involves filling out the appropriate form as well as including supporting documentation to support their case. Examples of supporting documentation include resignation letters, exit interviews, disciplinary notices, and employee handbooks. Once the state agency has reviewed the appeal, a determination is made.
Employers at that time can request a hearing. During a hearing, both parties are usually present either in person or by telephone. In most states, employers have the opportunity to present their narrative, show supporting documentation, and produce and interview witnesses who can support their response. An example of a witness might be a supervisor who fired an employee for misconduct or an HR manager who oversaw the process and conducted the exit conversation with an employee. Depending on the state, hearings may be attended by a representative from the company, a knowledgeable SUI hearing specialist, or an attorney. Each state has its own process, and there may be multiple levels of appeal before a final decision is made and no further recourse is available.
The Importance of Responding to Notices
It's essential that employers respond to unemployment claims in a timely fashion. Failure to respond can have serious consequences, including penalties and fines. Missing deadlines can also leave you unable to effectively contest an invalid claim. In some states, failure to respond can result in losing your rights to receive notifications, the right to appeal, or the right to a hearing.
Staying on top of the unemployment claims process can be challenging. Consider working with a knowledgeable state unemployment insurance partner who can assist you with responding to claims, managing the appeals process, and providing representation at hearings upon request.