Friday, January 22, 2016

Changes to Key Sections of the Illinois Unemployment Act

In December 2015 legislation was signed into Illinois law which changed key sections of the Illinois Unemployment Act.  These changes to Illinois law have taken effect on 1/3/2016 and add some clarification to the existing rules about terminating employees for misconduct.

Prior to this legislation when terminating an employee for misconduct, employers found it difficult to substantiate misconduct when terminating a poor employee due to the definition of misconduct provided by the state.  For purposes of the state misconduct was defined as “the deliberate and willful violation of a reasonable rule or policy of the employing unit, governing the individuals behavior in performance of his work, provided such violation has harmed the employing unit of other employees or has been repeated by the individual employee despite a warning or other explicit instruction from the employing unit.”

Many times when an employee was terminated due to true misconduct, the state would award unemployment benefits to the employee because the employer has the burden of proof to prove misconduct by the employee based on the law in Illinois.  When an employer would fail to prove misconduct in the termination of an employee, the state would award unemployment benefits to the employee, which would result in a higher tax bill for the employer for the next three years.  Employers were left frustrated not only from having to deal with a poor employee, but needing to pay higher unemployment taxes.

The legislation enacted on 1/3/2016 does not change the definition of misconduct but does add eight specific instances to help better define the term misconduct when representing your company in front of the IDES:
  • Falsification of an employment application or other documentation provided to an employer.
  • Failure to maintain licenses, registrations, certifications reasonable required by the employer, or those that the individual is required to possess by law.
  • Knowing, repeated violation of the attendance policies of the employer that are in compliance with State and Federal law.
  • Damaging the employers property through conduct that is grossly negligent.
  • Refusal to obey an employer’s reasonable and lawful instruction, unless the refusal is due to the lack of ability, skill or training for the individual that would result in an unsafe act.
  • Consuming alcohol or illegal or non-prescribed prescription drugs, or using an impairing substance in an off-label manner on the employers premises during working hours in violation of the employer’s policies.
  • Reporting to work under the influence of alcohol, illegal, non-prescribed or impairing substance.
  • Grossly negligent conduct endangering the safety of individuals and co-workers.
With this expanded definition of misconduct employers can now be represented in front of the IDES and  better protect themselves from paying higher taxes resulting from an employee’s misconduct and relieve some of the frustration generated by a bad hire.

Please contact your KOS representative about any questions you may have about working with the IDES or how unemployment taxes affect your business.

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