Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Understanding Pennsylvania's New Unemployment Law Enacted June 17, 2011

WILLFUL MISCONDUCT, VOLUNTARY QUIT JOB, SELF-EMPLOYMENT ATTORNEY FOR PENNSYLVANIA UNEMPLOYMENT CLAIMANTS


A copy of the new unemployment law, which became effective June 17, 2011, is attached Here.  Deletions from prior law are indicated by cross outs and new language is underlined.

As we posted on previously, the purported purpose of the amendment is to provide extended benefits to some 45,000 Pennsylvanians.  However, in our view, the cost of this extension is far too steep

Here is a synopsis of the most significant changes, at least from the employee's perspective (to the extent I can figure them out - talk about some confusing language!):

WHAT IS A CREDIT WEEK UNDER 2011 AMENDMENTS TO PENNSYLVANIA UNEMPLOYMENT LAW?  ATTORNEY WHO UNDERSTANDS PENNSYLVANIA UNEMPLOYMENT LAW

Credit weeks are are the baseline used to determine eligibility for unemployment compensation.  It used to be that one was credited with a credit week if during the week in question, one had earned at least $50.

Under the 2011 Amendment, a credit week is not earned unless one has earned at least $100.

WHAT IS THE MINIMUM AMOUNT OF UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS YOU CAN GET UNDER THE 2011 AMENDMENTS TO THE PENNSYLVANIA UNEMPLOYMENT ACT?  UNEMPLOYMENT REFEREE HEARING LAWYER FOR EMPLOYEES

It used to be, there was no minimum.  It is now $70.  If the calculated weekly benefit rate for any individual is less than $70, he/she will not receive any unemployment benefits.

WHAT IS THE MAXIMUM NUMBER OF WEEKS FOR WHICH PA UNEMPLOYMENT WILL BE PAID?  PHILADELPHIA UNEMPLOYMENT CLAIMS LAWYER

26. 

SEVERANCE RULES UNDER NEW 2011 PENNSYLVANIA UNEMPLOYMENT LAW. SEVERANCE LAWYER WHO HELPS EMPLOYEES NEGOTIATE BETTER PACKAGES

Prior to the Amendment, the receipt of severance had no impact on one's right or ability to receive unemployment. 

This has changed.

Under the new law, one may receive up to $17,853 in severance without loss of any unemployment benefits.  However, any payments in excess of $17,853 will result in an offset.  Want a more comprehensive understanding of how the new law deals with severance payments?  Click Here to read our Blog Post of April 4, 2012.

NOTE:   The new severance provision does not become effective until January 1, 2012. So, if at any time prior to January 1, 2012 you have entered into a severance agreement, this amendment will not affect you (even if the agreement provides for severance payments after January 1, 2012).  However, if you enter into such agreement at any time after January 1, 2012, these changes will apply.

NEW TELEPHONE HEARING RULES IN 2011 PENNSYLVANIA UNEMPLOYMENT STATUTE.  WANT EXPERIENCED LAWYER TO REPRESENT EMPLOYEE FOR UNEMPLOYMENT CLAIM IN PENNSYLVANIA?

Previously, one could not get a telephone hearing before a Referee unless one could prove that one's residence or place of business was more than 60 miles from the hearing location.  Now, anyone can get a telephone hearing under any circumstance.

This sounds like a good thing, but it is a little trickier than one might expect. In fact, I believe this new rule is of far greater benefit to companies than it is to claimants. Click Here to learn more about telephone hearings.

SEARCH FOR WORK CRITERIA IN 2011 PENNSYLVANIA UNEMPLOYMENT LAW

This portion of the law has undergone dramatic change.  In short, one must, in order to establish and maintain a right to unemployment benefits:

1)  Register with CareerLink;

2)  post a resume on the UC database;

3)  apply for any jobs on the system's database located within a 45 minute commute from one's home;

The failure to do any of the above may result in loss of benefits.  For example, I can see the "commuting" issue causing some problems. 

How is someone in Erie (where many Service Center decisions are made), going to understand that what appears to be a 25 minute drive when taking into account mileage only (say from Oaks to Lansdale), is actually a 1.5 hour nightmare???  Don't believe me?  Try taking 422 East in the morning or 422 West in the evening.  5 Miles on that road during morning/rush hour traffic feels like the Bataan Death March.

In addition, it is important to understand that these criterion are what the unemployment look for - you can try day and night to look for work through other methods, but if you do not meet these requirements, you will be disqualified from getting benefits.

In any event, I believe that these "job search requirements" will be used like a hammer to deprive many unemployed claimants of benefits - you should learn about these requirements, because I believe that one who fails to meet each and every job search requirement will be promptly disqualified from benefits.

There is a lot more to analyze in these Amendments but, for now, that's a wrap.

Here is our video about how to win a “willful misconduct” claim:



And another one about how to win a “voluntary quit” case:


One more, explaining the procedures that are followed at a Pennsylvania unemployment hearing:



If you watched all of these (or, maybe, any of these), you are surely sick of my voice (demeanor, etc.) - but I hope you found them helpful!

Philadelphia Unemployment Lawyer

John A. Gallagher, Esquire -
 Has Handled Hundreds of Unemployment Referee Hearings
John A. Gallagher is an employment lawyer who represents employees in Pennsylvania.
  
Click Here if you have questions about any aspect of employment law, from wrongful termination, to wage and overtime claims, to discrimination and retaliation laws, to Family and Medical Leave…

Click Here if you have questions about any aspect of Pennsylvania Unemployment Law, from willful misconduct, to voluntary quit, to Referee Hearings, to severance issues…

Click Here to e-mail John directly.

Need a lawyer in your area?  We have referral arrangements throughout the USA.  Fill out our Contact Form, and we will put you in touch.

Thanks for checking in with us.

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

I have reached my 99 weeks of unemployment benefits Yesterday in the mail I received another 4 weeks of unemployment forms to fill out. These forms were for the month of January. Do I fill them out and send them in?

Employment Lawyers said...

It may be, but I hesitate to provide specific advice on specific questions on this Blog because the law is very fact specific....

You probably should, but be wary: If you have been working part-time or in an independent contractor (i.e. 1099) job and haven't told Unemployment, sometimes they find out through this reapplication process....

M Lane said...

I have a question regarding the effect of severance on UC benefits. The article said that any payments in excess of $17,853, will affect UC benefit. In the law, is $17,853 the gross severance or net severance pay?

Employment Lawyers said...

Gross

Anonymous said...

Did Pennsylvania reduce the number of weeks to receive unemployment recently? I was told as of Jan 1, 2012 that they reduced it from 99 weeks to 26 weeks? If so, if I applied for the benefits Jan 1, 2012 would I still be eligible for the 99 weeks? Thank you.

Anonymous said...

I think this new rule is ridiculous. For those ppl that get layed off for a week or two at a time or even the ones who only get layed off in the winter. Make the ones who has sat on unemployment for years do this.

Jarvis said...

I have a question about the impact of 28 weeks of severance pay. Assuming I max out and collect no unemployment during those 28 weeks of severance - have I just used up my unemployment benefit period? OR do my 26 weeks of PA eligibility start after the severance - if I am still unemployed?
What about extended unemployment - am I still going to be eligible for that program?

Anonymous said...

I just read that President Obama has passed the new, 29012 "job law" extending unemployment benefits. I am on my initial, 26-week unemployment claim, which is done at the end of May, 2012. I read on my state's PA Gov. website that due to a lower unemployment rater, "extended benefits" are being phased out. Now, I am so confused...does this mean I cannot apply for these "extended benefits" as of end of May, 2012?

Anonymous said...

Are payments of short term disability considered credit weeks since under U.C. they are considered wages by a self insured company/employer?