July 20, 2021
Florida law reduces the time that employers have to respond to UI benefit claim notices, mass claim filing option now available to employers
Recently enacted Florida legislation (HB 1463) reduces the time that employers have to respond to a state notice that a former employee filed an unemployment insurance (UI) benefit claim (referred to by the state as reemployment assistance or RA). Effective May 7, 2021, the employer must respond within 14 days of the mailing date on the state's notice, down from 20 days.
Under Florida state UI law, failure by a contributing employer or its agent to timely or adequately respond to a notice of UI claim or request for information may result in the prohibition of employer relief of UI benefit charges when UI benefits have erroneously been paid.
Law institutes a mass claim filing option for employers
HB 1463 requires that the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity (DEO) implement an employer-assisted mass separation program. This will allow employers to file UI benefit claims on behalf of their employees during a large mass separation event involving 1,000 or more employees.
Law requires UI benefit claims system overhaul
Due to the inability of the current electronic RA filing system, known as CONNECT, to keep up during historic COVID-19 UI benefit claim filings, HB 1463 requires the DEO to implement an integrated, modular system hosted in a cloud computing service that will assist the DEO in processing mass UI benefit claims in the event of another large scale emergency affecting UI.
State ends COVID-19 pandemic UI benefits
On May 24, 2021, the DEO announced that, effective June 26, 2021, Florida will end its participation in the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) program that provides the $300 per week supplemental UI benefit payment. For the week beginning June 27, 2021, eligible UI benefit claimants will no longer receive the $300 weekly FPUC payment.
Differing from other states that are ending participation in all of the federal COVID-19 UI assistance programs, Florida will, for the time being, continue to participate in the other programs, including Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation, and Mixed Earners Unemployment Compensation. The DEO will continue to carefully monitor job posting and industry hiring trends. These additional federal benefit programs are set to expire on September 6, 2021 under the federal American Rescue Plan Act.
Ernst & Young LLP insights
According to the federal Treasury Direct website, as of July 13, 2021, Florida has not yet requested the option, if needed, to receive federal unemployment insurance (UI) Title XII advances (i.e., UI loans). See EY Tax Alert 2021-1005 for information on other recent Florida legislation affecting employers.
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