If you’re a business owner or HR manager in New York, New Jersey, or Connecticut, it’s important to know the state unemployment laws, how they impact your benefits programs, and whether you have a basis for denying any unreasonable claims. Depending on the reasons why an employee was terminated or quit, they may or may not be entitled to unemployment benefits which are required by law to comply with.
Unemployment Eligibility During the COVID-19 Outbreak
Since the coronavirus pandemic has left many Americans jobless, the federal government has granted states more flexibility in awarding unemployment benefits. Under the guidance of federal law, NY, NJ, and CT have the ability to amend their state laws to provide benefits in multiple scenarios related to COVID-19. For example:
- When an individual is quarantined with the expectation of returning to work when the quarantine time period is over
- If an employer can prevent employees from coming to work by temporarily ceasing operations due to the coronavirus pandemic
- When an individual leaves employment due to a risk of infection, or to care for a family member
For companies that are concerned with laying off employees due to a slowdown in business through the COVID-19 pandemic, there are alternative solutions. The Department of Labor offers a SharedWork program, which allows employers to reduce the hours of full-time employees by as much as 60 percent. While workers collect partial unemployment benefits to replace a portion of their lost wages, businesses can remain closed in order to lower operational costs.
What Are the Basics of Unemployment Law?
Unemployment insurance provides partial income replacement for qualified individuals who lose their job through no fault of their own. The unemployment insurance system was intended to serve two main purposes:
- To provide temporary compensation to eligible workers who lost their job
- To promote economic stability by rewarding employers who minimize their workforce turnover
Federal and state unemployment taxes that have been paid by companies are designated to the monetary benefits of former employees. States such as New York, New Jersey and Connecticut have enacted regulations based on the unemployment tax rate of a company on the amount of benefits they’ve paid to former workers.
Unlike sales, income, and property tax, companies have the power to influence their unemployment insurance tax rates. As a business, your actions affect your rate, and you can lower your unemployment insurance tax rate if you maintain company policies to:
- Only lay off workers when necessary to serve business objectives
- Utilize proper procedures to terminate employees
- Contest unemployment benefit claims only when former employees are ineligible
If you want to protest your tax rate, liability or the amount of benefits you award, you need to provide accurate records of your unemployment processes. If you fail to show the necessary documentation when an employee contests their benefit claim, your business may be vulnerable to a tax increase.
What Are the Eligibility Requirements of Unemployment Benefits in NY, NJ and CT?
In order to be eligible for unemployment benefits, a former employee must have a minimum amount of time served on the job, before being terminated and filing for benefits. For determining the minimum amount of time needed, each state has a slightly different formula:
Eligibility Requirements of Unemployment Benefits in New York
The base period for this calculation is the previous calendar year before the employee was terminated, but the employee must have worked at least two of the four quarters to qualify for benefits. They also must have earned a minimum of $1,600 during the highest paid quarter.
Eligibility Requirements of Unemployment Benefits in New Jersey
Wages from the previous 52 weeks are used to determine eligibility. To be eligible for unemployment benefits, an employee must have earned at least $8,300, or have worked for a minimum of 20 weeks.
Eligibility Requirements of Unemployment Benefits in Connecticut
Wages from the previous calendar year are used to determine eligibility, with the highest and second-highest quarters of earnings being the basis for the unemployment payment amount.
Paypro Can Help
With over 27 years of operational experience, our team at Paypro has helped a variety of businesses with their workflow management solutions. For unemployment and claims issues, we help clarify regulations, establish appropriate company procedures, and build customized programs for companies to survive through the coronavirus pandemic and beyond. Contact us today to see how we can help you.