Illinois has spent most of 2015 debating changes to its unemployment insurance system. Everything has been discussed from taxes to benefits. And now it appears that a deal has been reached between Governor Bruce Rauner’s administration, business groups and labor organizations to reform the entire system.
The final agreement was announced by the Governor’s office on Monday. The deal leaves in place the current unemployment tax rate without any increases and also does not cut any benefits for workers. This aspect of the deal was praised by business and labor groups.
“There’s always a little bit of risk there and that you’re always facing higher taxes for employers and benefit cuts for out of work employees but we’ve found that’s been an effective way to go ahead and make sure that we’re reviewing the law and to make sure that it’s fair to both sides and that’s what happened in this negotiation,” said Illinois Chamber of Commerce CEO Todd Maisch.
Even though taxes and benefits were left unchanged, eligibility standards were redefined.
Under the current law, a worker can be eligible for unemployment insurance benefits even if they damaged an employers’ property, consumed alcohol, or illegal or non-prescribed drugs during work hours, and knowingly or repeatedly violated reasonable written attendance policies of an employer.
Under the new agreement, an employee that commits any of those offense is not eligible for unemployment benefits.
“Unemployment insurance negotiations are always difficult, but all parties were committed to the process and an equitable agreement was achieved,” said Illinois AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Tim Drea.