Unemployment Benefits Go Up As Employers Try to Keep Expenses Down

Claims could cost employers over $13,000 EACH

Unemployment -benefit -increase

Since 2014 the unemployment maximum benefit rate in New York State has continued to increase and will continue to do so annually beginning the first Monday of October each year. This year has seen one of the steepest rises yet in the rate, and employers who aren’t paying attention may be caught off guard if they receive a claim.

This year the rate was based on 36% of the state’s average weekly wage and will continue to increase 2% each year until 2026 when it reaches 50% of the state’s average weekly wage. That means that as of 10/7/19 the maximum unemployment weekly benefit rate went from $450 to $504 per week, which means that over the 26 week period, one unemployment claim could now cost an employer $13,104.00. 

That’s why it’s so important to recognize that unemployment is a controllable business expense.

How can an employer control these costs?

Manage the employee separation process to avoid needless claims. Before you separate an employee, do you have...

  • Documentation of the final incident - (the “who, what, where, when & why”)?
  • A handbook policy that the employee violated?
  • A signed handbook acknowledgement from the employee?
  • A prior warning for the same or similar incident within the last 12 months?
  • The employee’s explanation for their actions?
  • Witness statements or additional proof of the final policy violation (i.e. emails, security camera footage, etc.)?

Protest claims when they come in. If an employee was separated for misconduct they should be ineligible to collect unemployment. If an organization manages the separation process as outlined above they will be in a much stronger position to protest these claims.

Use an outsourcing program to get separated employees back to work sooner. With the unemployment benefits going up, reducing the time an employee is out of work by even a few weeks can save thousands of dollars. A strong outplacement program helps with the development of a résumé, interviewing skills, and provides tips, advice, and feedback necessary to be successful in today’s competitive job market. By offering outplacement services your organization can help manage the job transition, reassure other employees of your organization's professionalism, and even minimize the chances that a separated employee pursues additional claims against the organization with the EEOC or Department of Labor.

How can HR One help?

For our clients, there is a packet of separation documents available under "Forms" in the member's only section of this site that includes a separation checklist, employee termination procedures, a sample exit interview questionnaire, and more. If you want to protest a claim that comes in, or need representation in a hearing regarding an unemployment situation HR One can help. We've represented hundreds of clients in unemployment claims processing, hearings, and appeals. We can also help with outsourcing employees who have been separated.

If you have questions contact your UI consultant, Deb Hague or Darlene Murray. Not sure who your consultant is, or if you'd like more information, call us at (315) 463-0004 to learn more about these programs.