September 14, 2020
Alabama employers must provide notice of availability of UI benefits to separated employees; other regulatory changes due to COVID-19
Under a recent regulatory change, Alabama employers are now required to provide employees with notification of the availability of unemployment insurance (UI) benefits at the time of separation from employment. The emergency regulation provides the information the notice should contain.
To be eligible for federal grants under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), state workforce agencies must have a provision requiring that employers notify employees at the time of layoff or reduced work of the availability of UI benefits. (U.S. Department of Labor program letter 13-20).
A sample notice employers may use to make this notification to separating employees is available.
Employers are not charged for COVID-19 UI benefits
As we reported previously, since March 20, 2020, the Alabama Department of Labor has waived the charging of COVID-19 UI benefits to employer UI accounts when partial unemployment compensation claims are filed on behalf of their employees. (EY Payroll Newsflash,Vol. 21, #100, 3-25-2020.)
Partial claims filing is required for COVID-19 UI benefits
The Department has been encouraging all employers to file partial claims on behalf of their employees if theyare able todo so. Employers unable to file partial claims on behalf of their employees were instructed to notify the Department that they waive their right to respond to any Request for Separation information (Form BEN 241). Employers should email this waiver to Ben241waiver@labor.alabama.gov or send a fax to +1 334 309 9098. Statements should be on company letterhead and should include the state unemployment insurance account number.
Information regarding partial claims and how to file them is available here.
Another change to the regulations provides that the failure of employers to respond adequately and timely to the Department's request for separation information (Form BEN-241) may result in a denial of relief of UI benefit charges to the employer UI account. This change is the result of a federal requirement that employers not be relieved of UI benefit charge overpayments due to the failure of the employer or its agent to timely and/or adequately respond to UI benefit claim notices.
Employers required to submit information when workers refuse to return to suitable work
Employers are required to report workers that refuse to return to work when recalled, unless the reason for refusal meets certain COVID-19 circumstances. Employers are instructed to report work refusals through the Alabama Department of Labor's new-hire electronic reporting system. For instructions on how to report, go here.
The Department reports that failure of an individual to return to work may cause disqualification for UI benefits.
New-hire reporting requirements will be enforced
A notice posted to the Department's website indicates that it has started enforcing the new-hire reporting law. Failure to report all newly hired employees, or those employees rehired within the last 12 months, may result in an assessment of $25 per occurrence.
More information on Alabama's new-hire reporting program may be found here
For more information on the Department's response to COVID-19, see the Department's website.