- Unemployment Compensation Reform Law
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What is the maximum number of weeks of regular state benefits available in Florida?
Effective January 1, 2012:
- The duration of benefits adjusts from the current maximum of 26 weeks to a range from 12 to 23 weeks, based upon the average unemployment rate in Florida for the third calendar quarter of the previous year.
- For example, the maximum number of weeks for 2012 will be based on the average unemployment rate in Florida for July, August and September 2011.
- When the average unemployment rate is 5 percent or less, the maximum duration of benefits will be 12 weeks.
- For each half-percent increase in the average unemployment, an additional week will be added to the calculation of the benefit duration beginning January 1 of the following calendar year.
- Should the average unemployment rate reach 10.5 percent or higher, a maximum of 23 weeks would be payable on a claim established during the following calendar year.
When will the agency calculate the average unemployment rate and the maximum number of weeks available?
The average unemployment rate will be calculated once per year - on the third Friday in November using the average unemployment rate for the 3rd quarter of that year. Once that rate is determined, that rate will establish the level of benefits for the next calendar year.
Will federal extensions of benefits be affected by this new law?
The change in the duration of reemployment assistance benefits is effective as of January 1, 2012. Therefore, this legislation will not affect claimants currently receiving benefits through federal extensions. The current eligibility period for claimants entering Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC) ends the week beginning December 16, 2012. The last payable EUC week is the week ending is December 29, 2012. DEO can only pay EB for as long as Florida remains triggered “on” an EB period. The EB period is controlled by the average rate of unemployment in Florida. As of the week ending April 21, 2012, Florida’s unemployment rate declined below the level needed to allow the payment of EB.
EB will remain available for three weeks following April 21, 2012. Florida will pay EB through the week ending May 12, 2012. New EB claims will continue to be taken through the week beginning May 6, 2012. The last week that EB can be paid is May 12, 2012, regardless of any benefits remaining on the claim. No new EB claims can be accepted after the week ending May 12, 2012.
Individuals who have exhausted all entitlement to regular benefits and all tiers of EUC and who wish to receive EB must complete an EB application.
Can I still file for benefits by phone or mail?
Effective August 1, 2011, you must file initial and continued claims online at https://www2.myflorida.com/fluid/. These services will not be available by telephone or mail. The DEO's reemployment assistance hotline will still be available to answer questions about the filing process.
Can I receive severance pay and reemployment assistance benefits simultaneously?
Effective August 1, 2011, if your severance pay per week is equal to or greater than your weekly benefit amount, you are not entitled to benefits for that week.
There is no reduction in the amount of total UC benefits (credits) that can be paid on the claim. For example, if you were determined eligible for $6,325 of available benefits (credits), you will still be eligible for that same amount unless your benefit year expires before you exhaust that total.
How many work search contacts must I make each week?
Effective August 1, 2011, you are required on a weekly basis to make contact with five potential employers and provide this information online during your bi-weekly certification for benefits. A quick, efficient way to contact employers through Employ Florida Marketplace, the state’s online job matching system where you can search thousands of job postings and apply for jobs.
If you are not able to make at least five employer contacts in a week, meeting with a representative at your local One-Stop Career Center for reemployment services may satisfy this requirement for that week.
Am I required to participate in the initial skills review?
If you are establishing a new reemployment assistance claim, reopening an existing claim or filing an additional claim on or after August 1, 2011, you must complete an initial online skills review unless you are unable to complete such a review due to illiteracy or because you speak a language other than English or Spanish. The results of the review will be used by your local One-Stop Career Center to assist in your job search efforts.
Can I continue to receive my reemployment assistance benefits via paper check?
If you are receiving your benefits via paper check as of July 1, 2011, you can continue to receive checks for the remainder of your claim. However, if you elect to change from checks to direct deposit or Florida Reemployment Assistance Debit Card prior to the expiration of your claim, you will not be able to return to payments via check.
All individuals establishing a new reemployment assistance claim, filing additional claims or reopening an existing claim on or after July 1, 2011 must receive benefits through either Florida Reemployment Assistance Debit Card or direct deposit to your bank account.
Can I be disqualified for benefits for something that happens outside of work?
Yes, the definition of misconduct has been amended to provide that misconduct can be found to have occurred in connection with a job whether or not it happens at the workplace or during working hours. Misconduct is no longer restricted to “a willful or wanton disregard of an employer’s interests,” but “a conscious disregard of an employer’s interests and found to be in deliberate violation or disregard of the reasonable standards of behavior which the employer expects of employees.
The law provides that certain circumstances are misconduct. These include, but are not limited to:
- Chronic absenteeism or tardiness
- Willful and deliberate violation of a standard or regulation which would jeopardize the employer’s Florida license or certification
- Violation of an employer’s rule under certain circumstances