The big picture.
Although it has been in existence for 75 years, State Unemployment Insurance (SUI) is a complex subject and consequently is frequently unaddressed by employers. We want to lay out the basics so you as the employer can tackle this beast if/when you need to.
Generally speaking, you as the employer pay a percentage of each employee's wages into a state fund. If/when an employee collects temporary Unemployment Insurance and it is chargeable to you as the employer, it likely depletes your funds (as well as the state's). Depending on how many claims you've had payable against you, and monetary amount of benefits that have been awarded (like the equivalent to accidents with car insurance), your rates for the following year may go up or down. SUI may also be affected by SUI performance of the state as a whole.
Employees must have been employed or have earned a minimum amount of time or earnings, and they must also be looking for suitable work in order to qualify.
It's not you; it's me.
This was the reason behind unemployment when it was established as a subsidy program in 1932 in the midst of the great depression. In the most basic of terms, unemployment insurance was originally set up for employees who lose their jobs due to no fault of their own to alleviate hardship and stabilize the economy. Think layoffs, businesses closing, etc. In situations like this, the employer's SUI will most likely be charged for at least a portion of the benefit paid out to the employee.
It's not me; it's definitely you.
Think terminations for poor performance, conduct, refusing suitable work, etc. This could also include employees leaving voluntarily, in which case they are not awarded benefits. Again, because they left due to their own accord, they typically do not receive SUI benefits.
There's always a but…
Each state has a list of disqualifiers - in other words, reasons why applicants are denied unemployment benefits from the state. And THIS is why HR professionals are always preaching about documentation. Anyone can apply for unemployment. The burden of proof as to why the employee was separated and why they should or shouldn't be awarded SUI is up to you as the employer. So if you haven't documented their violation of safety rules, their voluntary resignation, their misconduct, etc.…. Yup… they'll likely collect SUI benefits, and that may affect your rates. So in a nutshell, your job as the employer is to tie an employee's termination back to state disqualifiers as closely and accurately as possible.
Colorado tends to be fairly employer friendly when it comes to disqualifiers. The list includes 24 reasons why employees may be disqualified ranging from willful neglect or damage to assault to sleeping or loafing. We are always happy to help companies identify what qualifies and what DISqualifies employees in their state, but again - it's up to you to document all that has occurred up to the last straw to cover, the but, or your butt.
We love HR so you can love what you do. simplyHR LLC is an HR consulting firm located in Fort Collins, CO providing partnerships to companies in all 50 states. Our goal at simplyHR LLC is to provide training, education, partnership, and resources to make Human Resources simple for small businesses.
The content of this website provides practical and HR best practice information and is not legal advice. simplyHR LLC does not provide legal advice or other professional services. While every effort is made to provide accurate and current information, laws change regularly and may vary depending on the state and/or the municipality your business operates in. The information provided from simplyHR is provided for informational purposes and is not a substitute for legal advice or your professional judgement. You should review applicable federal, state and municipality laws in your jurisdiction and consult with legal counsel as you deem necessary.