When an individual files for benefits, the state establishes a “benefit year” for them and the claimant can collect their award of benefits during that time frame. The benefit year begins on the date the claimant filed for benefits and ends 52 weeks later. Most, but not all, states have two primary types of claims forms – a last employer claim and a base period claim. These different claims are sent to specific employers and serve different purposes.
Last Employer Claims
The last employer claim is sent to the last employer directly preceding the filing of the claim. This could be an employer who employed the claimant for as little as a few days or as long as many decades. The separation from this employer will be used to adjudicate the claimant’s overall eligibility for unemployment benefits. There is only one last employer claim generated.
Base Period Claims
The base period employer claim is sent to any employer or employers who paid wages to the claimant during the base period. The base period is defined as the first four of the last five completed calendar quarters. The fifth quarter is deemed a lag quarter and the current quarter is ignored. Because of this, there may be one or many of this type of claim form issued. Its sole purpose is to determine the employer’s chargeability. Each base period employer is issued a base period claim and, if the separation is protestable, has the opportunity to request relief of charges. As a reimbursing employer, you pay dollar for dollar for your unemployment claims versus merit rated employers that pay their unemployment claims based on their tax rate. Certain regulations regarding base period protest rights apply to reimbursers. See below for base period protest regulations by state.
Keep in mind that unemployment goes back 18 months so if your former employee did not file directly after separation from your employment, you could still see a claim a year and a half later. That is why documentation is so important.
Document, Document, Document
The time to win an unemployment claim is not when you receive it in the mail. The time to win an unemployment claim is before a worker separates and even files a claim. By the time you receive that claim from the state, it’s too late to get that written resignation letter or that witness statement or that signature on the company policy. To create effective documentation, it is imperative that you document a worker’s history, good or bad, as it occurs.
In handling a discharge, the state needs all details regarding the final incident. When an employee verbally resigns, ask that he/she put that resignation in writing. When dealing with an employee on progressive discipline, make sure that the steps for improvement are listed as well as the policy being violated. Follow these tips, so when that request for information hits your inbox, you will have everything you need to put forth the best case possible.
Base Period Regulations by State
The above content is provided by our friends at EWS.