I frequently get questions on my HR HelpLine on how to prepare for and win an unemployment claim. Here are some tips:
Unemployment Compensation provides individuals who have lost their jobs a temporary source of income. Administered by each state, employees who have been let go due to a lack of work (lay off) or performance are generally able to collect.
Though the rules vary by state, there are generally four reasons to disqualify an employee from collecting:
- Fired for misconduct
- Voluntarily quit without good cause attributed to their employment
- Not available or able for full time work
- Not a citizen or authorized to work in the U.S.
Though the disqualifying reasons are clear, employees who would not normally be eligible to collect, do. Many times it is because employers make mistakes either prior to the employee filing a claim or after a claim has been filed. Here are the common mistakes:
- Terminating in the heat of the moment: supervisors often say dumb things or take actions without following the company policies
- Terminating without reasonable warning: though at-will employees generally can be fired for most reasons, hearing officers want to be sure you have followed your policies and given fair warning
- Ignoring company procedures or prior warnings: as noted above, if you have policies, follow them. If you don’t want to follow them, get rid of them
- Providing no documentation: Hearing officers often take the position, if it’s not documented, it didn’t happen.
After an employee has filed for unemployment, there are other mistakes employers make that result losing a claim:
- Missing a claim response or appeal deadline: there in not tolerance for this
- Changing an explanation for work separation: be consistent in your reasons. You can’t change your mind here
- Failing to prove your case: without documentation, clear policy violation, and first hand testimony, you are likely to lose
- Failing to present first hand testimony from eyewitnesses: as noted above, this testimony is critical. Don’t send your HR rep to hearing when the supervisor should be there
Unemployment compensation was designed to protect employees who have lost their jobs through no fault of their own. If there are eligible, they should collect. However, too many are wrongfully allowed to collect due to employer error. Follow these steps to minimize this.
If you have questions on the above or other employee related issues, contact the HR HelpLine.