By Kristen Kelly, HR Specialist
The New York State Department of Labor follows specific procedures when determining a claimant’s eligibility for unemployment benefits. Awareness of these procedures and having strong proactive HR systems in place will assist in protesting any unjustified unemployment claims. This ultimately has potential to help lower your company’s unemployment costs.
The first of many steps in the Department of Labor’s procedure when determining a claimant’s eligibility for unemployment benefits is investigating if the claimant lost employment through no fault of their own. This is determined with information from the employer and the claimant regarding the final incident that caused the claimant’s separation. When providing the final incident, you may want to ask yourself the classic question, “What was the final straw that broke the camel’s back?” Keep in mind that this final incident will be one of the key deciding factors on whether or not a claimant will be found eligible for unemployment benefits. Typically, the Department of Labor will not accept multiple final incidents. This is why it is imperative to have a clear separation process and supporting documentation for all separations.
Along with providing the information on the final incident, in an involuntary separation case, the Department of Labor will ask the question, “How would the claimant have known that this final incident would put his/her job in jeopardy?” Here you should provide copies of any company policies or previous warnings that relate to the final incident. This documentation should support your case and prove that the claimant was aware their job was in jeopardy. A determination is made on the claimants unemployment benefit eligibility once the Department of Labor receives all of this information.
If a company or claimant is dissatisfied with the determination, there is an option to request an unemployment hearing in front of an Administrative Law Judge. In a hearing, the Administrative Law Judge will accept testimony from both sides and review supporting documentation. The judge will then make a decision on whether or not to overturn the initial determination. Although this is an option, it is very important to submit complete documentation while protesting the claim the first time.
As you can tell, there are specifics procedures that should to be followed when protesting unemployment claims. If you follow them, it will go a long way to help you manage your unemployment costs!