Plain Language Summary of 2005 UI Law Changes

Complete Plain Language Summary (PDF) of Wisconsin Act 86

Summary of Items in 2005 Wisconsin Act 86

Benefits Changes

108.04(1)(c) Harmonize “Partial-week” and “Family and Medical Leave” Provisions

Adds language to apply the partial-week disqualification to partial weeks of a family and medical leave, to partial weeks of a disqualification for a suspension if it affects only a portion of a week and to the week a termination occurs if it affects only a portion of a week.

108.04(1)(e) Modify Work Search Requirements for Self-Employed

Repeals the current requirement that a self-employed individual make a bona fide search for employment each week to be eligible for benefits even if the individual is eligible for a waiver of the requirement.

108.04(5g) Disqualification for Failure to Give Notice of Absence

This change creates a specific disqualification relating to absences and tardiness without notice. Employers are required to have a written policy which is to include what constitutes a “tardy”, the process for giving notice, verification that the employee received the policy, one warning before discharge and uniform application. Provides that 6 tardies or 5 absences without notice within a twelve month period will result in disqualification. To requalify, the individual must wait 6 weeks and have earned 6 times the employee’s weekly benefit rate.. This change has a four year sunset.

108.04(13) Employer Fault and Benefit Charging

Redefines employer fault to include an employer’s failure to respond to an adjudicator’s request for information during a fact-finding interview. Any benefits paid until a new decision is made will “stand as paid” unless an ALJ finds that the failure is with good cause.

108.04(16)(e) Technical Correction

Removed reference to sections 108.04(2)(a) or (d) to prevent an interpretation that would noncharge employers when an able & available disqualification is not imposed because the claimant is enrolled in approved training.

108.05(1)(o) and (p) Benefit Rate Increase

These statutes provide for an increase in the maximum weekly benefit rate. The increase beginning January 1, 2006 is $12 and the increase beginning January 1, 2007 will be $14.

108.05(3)(a) Benefits for Partial Unemployment

Repealed the wage disregard to volunteer firefighters, volunteer emergency medical technician or volunteer “first responder”.

108.068(2) Technical Correction

Amended language to fix conflicting effective dates for benefits and tax issues when the department recognizes the federal election of an LLC to be treated as a corporation for tax purposes.

108.105(2) Revocation of employer agent right to represent employer

Allows for revocation of the right of an employer agent to represent employers for continued failure to provide information during a fact finding investigation. The standard for allowing revocation of an agent’s privilege is agent failure to provide correct and complete information to the adjudicator in 5% of cases appealed to an appeal tribunal and there is no finding by the administrative law judge that the failure was for good cause.

Tax Changes

108.151(7)(a) Bad Debt Assessment for Reimbursement Employers

This amendment will require all non-profit employers who have elected reimbursement financing to pay an assessment into a newly created account when there is a balance of unpaid and uncollectible benefit reimbursements. The assessment is equitable to the size of the organization. The maximum total amount assessed in any year is $200,000. If this is not enough to cover the outstanding bad debts the remaining balance will be carried over to the next year. This will prevent taxed employers from having to pay into the trust fund balancing account for the uncollectible liabilities of non-taxed employers.

108.16 SUTA Dumping

The Federal SUTA Dumping Prevention Act of 2004 requires all states to amend their UI laws no later than January 1, 2006, to remain in compliance with federal law. SUTA dumping is manipulation of business transfers to obtain artificially low UI tax rates. Theses required changes mandate that UI account experience be transferred to the buyer of a business when both the seller and buyer are owned, controlled or managed by the same interests and they prohibit transfer of account experience when a new business acquires an existing business for the primary purpose of obtaining a tax rate lower than the standard new employer rate.

108.17 Expansion of Employer Electronic Reporting

This change would require employer agents who prepare reports for less than 25 employers to use the department’s internet reporting application. This change would also require employers reporting 50 or more employees to use any electronic media to file their wage reports and the internet to file their tax report.

108.22(2)(a)1 Individual Liability for Corporate Tax Debt

Specifically allows department to file a lien against an individual who has been found personally liable for a corporate tax debt.

108.225(20) Changes to Levy Fees

Changes levy statute to provide that the levy fee is in addition to the levy amount so that the fee is not deducted from the amount sent to the Department. Also increases the levy fee from $5 to $15 for multiple-payment levies.

Other

108.02(12) Technical Change

For internal consistency, changes the statute to define employee as someone who performs services for pay subject to the exclusions of 108.02(12)(b). Also clarifies that a sole owner or partner is not an employee with respect to services performed for their own business.

108.02(5)(k)14 Repeal Food Processing Exclusion

Repeals this exclusion that applies to the employment of certain employees who worked in the processing of fresh fruits and vegetables solely during the active processing seasons.

108.02(21e) Changes to PEO Statute

Limits the definition of professional employer organization to those organizations that are in the business on an ongoing basis of providing staffing services as stated in the professional employer organization statute. Also allows PEO and client to share responsibility for setting wages.

108.09(4n) Admissibility of Labor Market Reports (COED)

Creates a statutory provision which makes the department Conditions Of Employment Database reports admissible as prima facie evidence in UI hearings without need for certification by an expert. These reports are used to determine benefit eligibility when labor market and occupational data is necessary.

108.22(8)(b) Eliminate Offset to Collect Imposter Penalties

Changed to remove the department’s authority to offset benefit payments in order to recover administrative assessments levies against imposters. This change is required for Wisconsin conformity with federal law which does not permit such offsets.

20.445(1)(nb) Use of Reed Act Funds.

Permits use of up to $1 million in Reed Act funds for UI administration, if needed, in State Fiscal Year 2007. The department will consult with the UI Advisory Council before any expenditure.

Nonstatutory Provisions

Study of Unemployment Insurance Fund

The department and the Unemployment Insurance Advisory Council agree to complete a study regarding the financing and viability of the unemployment reserve fund.

Authorized Position in the Department of Justice

Creates and appropriates funding for a half-time position in the Department of Justice for the purpose of prosecuting tax and benefit fraud.


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