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Employers must inform separated employees about potential unemployment benefits

We are all familiar with the requirement for displaying posters about various labor issues: child labor laws, workers’ compensation benefits, the minimum wage, non-discrimination laws, and unemployment compensation.

But on July 10, 2020, the Alabama Department of Labor (ADOL) issued an emergency rule for another requirement about unemployment compensation: Employers now have to inform each individual employee who is separated from employment of their potential eligibility for unemployment compensation benefits—by letter, email, text message, or flyer. This is a new requirement that has never existed in Alabama before, and employers should pay attention to comply.

ADOL has announced its intent to allow comments on the proposed permanent changes to Alabama Administrative Code §  480-4-2-.19 that addresses employer responsibilities. For the most part, these changes are necessary so that Alabama can receive Federal funding for its unemployment compensation program.

The ADOL notice of intended action (permanent change to the rule) indicates that the public has until September 4, 2020, to comment on the proposed permanent rule change. You may submit data, views, or arguments in writing by mail or in person. You’ll have to request an appointment if you want to submit your comments in person. Call the ADOL general counsel Joseph Ammons at 334-956-7470 to request an appointment. Otherwise, mail letters to—

John S. Ammons, Esq.
General Counsel
Alabama Department of Labor
649 Monroe Street, Suite 1801
Montgomery, AL 36131

Summary of requirements under the emergency rule

  1. In addition to posters, employers must provide—at the time of separation from employment— every terminated employee a notice about unemployment compensation by at least one of four methods: letter (regular mail), email, text message, or flyer (something given to the employee when he or she is “processed out” on the last day of employment).
  2. The exact language of the notice is included in the emergency rule (and found below). The proposed permanent rule does not change this language.
  3. Each request for separation information (Form BEN 241) will have a response due date instead of the current requirement of a response within 6 working days.
  4. Failure to timely provide the information required by Form BEN 241 may affect an employer’s experience rating, which will then also be reflected in how much unemployment tax the employer must pay.

Wording of the notice to be given to separated employees

Notice of Availability of Unemployment Compensation

Unemployment Insurance (UI) benefits are available to workers who are unemployed and who meet the requirements of state UI eligibility laws. You may file a UI claim in the first week that employment stops or work hours are reduced.

For assistance or more information about filing a claim, visit www.labor.alabama.gov.

You will need to provide the Alabama Department of Labor with the following information in order for the state to process your claim:

  1. Your full legal name;
  2. Your Social Security Number; and
  3. Your authorization to work (if you are not a US Citizen or resident).

To file a UI claim by phone, call: 1-866-234-5387.

To file a UI claim on line, visit:

https://continuedclaims.labor.alabama.gov

If you have questions about the status of your UI claim, you can call the Alabama Department of Labor at 1-800-361-4524 or check your claim status online at

https://uiclaimstracker.labor.alabama.gov

As it stands right now, the ADOL proposed permanent rule has no differences in wording from the emergency rule.

So this means that if you terminate any employees in the future, and presumably if such employees separate of their own volition, you must provide the required notice. We also recommend that you send the notice to any employees separated on or after July 10, 2020. “Stay tuned” to the Third Shift Blog to see whether ADOL makes any changes to the permanent rule. We expect we’ll know by September 30, if not before.  The ADOL has issued a suggested notice to be given to separated employees, which has more information than that required by the emergency rule or the permanent rule.

Download a copy of the ADOL “Separation Information Employer Guide.”

Items on this web page are general in nature. They cannot—and should not—replace consultation with a competent legal professional. Nothing on this web page should be considered rendering legal advice.

© 2020

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