Play Audio
Unemployment Insurance Claim: A Step-by-Step Employer Guide

Unemployment Insurance Claim: A Step-by-Step Employer Guide

By Steve Donovan on Jun 29, 2023
5 min read 0 comment(s)

Share this:

step-by-step-guide-to-unemployment-claims (1)

As a small business, things can seem confusing when you receive notice that a former employee has filed an unemployment claim. You may have no familiarity with what is required of you and how your company should respond.

With the assistance of an experienced Professional Employer Organization (PEO), your first experience with the unemployment claim process doesn’t have to be a walk through the dark. In this post, I’ll cover the general steps involved in handling an unemployment claim so that you can navigate the process with dexterity. 

How to Respond to an Unemployment Claim 

what is at-will employment

Receiving an Initial Notice & Determining Whether to Contest 

The first thing you should know about the unemployment claims process is this: based on the circumstances surrounding the employee’s separation from your company, you may be able to contest a claim.

In other words, not all unemployment claims filed by former employees are valid, and you’ll be able to submit proof that a claim is invalid if this occurs. Generally, a former employee will only be able to qualify to receive unemployment benefits when both of the following qualifications are met: 

  • The employee lost their job through no fault of their own, such as furloughs, budget cuts or restructuring or a termination that didn’t result from the employee’s misconduct or violation of a company policy, and 
  • The employee meets certain employment eligibility requirements generally related to the length of time they've worked (whether for you or for another employer). The exact parameters of this eligibility requirement may vary depending on their state. 

If both of the above qualifications are met, your former employee will likely have a valid unemployment claim and will have the right to file for unemployment benefits. 

Gathering Documentation for a Response 

When you receive the notice that the claim has been filed, your state government’s unemployment office will ask you to fill out a “separation report,” where they’ll get your company’s side of the story. When one of your former employees files an unemployment claim, your company will typically have 10 days to respond.

If you fail to respond within the time allowed, your state will likely award unemployment benefits to your former employee by default, so it’s important to move quickly when you believe a claim should be contested. 

Compiling a response can be a time-consuming task, as it often involves locating, gathering and preparing documents and supporting information. It’s critical that you provide accurate and comprehensive responses to the notice you receive and divulge all of the important details surrounding the employee’s termination from the company. 

In a situation where you need to contest an unemployment claim, it helps to be proactive. Keeping records of your personnel policies is a crucial first step to ensuring that you have the documentation necessary to prevail in an unemployment claim or appeal process.

Start by keeping records of any policies that you ask your employees to comply with--whether organized in an employee handbook or otherwise. As an added step, you can capture records of employees' acknowledgment of your policies through physical or electronic signatures. 

Employers should also maintain a thorough process for documenting violations of employee policies. Having evidence of the reason an employee was let go can go a long way help to you prove that an employee was terminated for cause. Keep track of behavioral issues, written warnings, performance improvement plans, and any other items along a paper trail leading to an employee's ultimate severance from the company. 

how to conduct an exit interview

Receiving a Notice of Determination 

If an employee meets federal and state-specific eligibility requirements and has lost their job through no fault of their own--i.e., as a result of furloughs, budget cuts, or restructuring, then that former employee may receive benefits. 

Once you have submitted your response to the claim, your state government’s unemployment office will issue a Notice of Determination or a decision on whether the former employee will receive benefits. 

RELATED: The True Cost of Firing an Employee >> 

The Appeals Process 

Once a Notice of Determination has been issued and either an approval or denial of unemployment benefits has been made by your state government’s unemployment office, both parties to the claim (your company and your former employee) will have the right to initiate an appeal of the decision. 

Parties typically have between 15 and 30 days following the issuance of the initial Notice of Determination in which to file an appeal, depending on their state. For example, Kansas employers have just 16 days to file a timely appeal. These deadlines are firm: if they are missed, the Notice of Determination is final. 

Once a party has responded with their desire to appeal the decision, the administrative law judge assigned to the unemployment case will likely schedule an appeal hearing. The hearing may take place in person, by phone, or over video conference, depending on the procedures in place within your state. 

RELATED: Wrongful Termination - What Employers Need to Know >>

A representative from your company who has had direct knowledge of the former employee will be required to speak directly with a judge during the appeal hearing. The company representative will need to testify regarding all of the available evidence, including the employee’s file, the termination report and any applicable employment policies and handbooks.

Your company will also have the right to question witnesses from the employee’s side and rebut their testimony. 

Getting prepared for these appeals hearings can be intimidating, but an experienced PEO can provide coaching to business owners and managers, teaching them what to say to communicate effectively during the hearing. 

Are Your Employees Quiet Quitting

Employer Help with Unemployment Claims 

As a company that pays taxes into state and federal unemployment insurance funds, you help fund the unemployment benefits your former employees receive. Your unemployment taxes may rise if a former employee files a claim, which is why it’s crucial to contest a claim that you believe is invalid. 

If you’ve received notice of an unemployment claim and don’t know where to start, reach out to the experts. As a trusted risk management PEO (Private Employer Organization), Axcet HR Solutions is here to help you untangle the unemployment claims filing process and set you up for success in the future.

RELATED: Axcet HR Among the First To Become a Certified PEO >> 

Axcet is proud to assist businesses in every step of the unemployment claims process, offering strategic advice and handling administrative duties along the way. 

Unemployment claims processing is just the beginning of what we offer at Axcet. To see how we can help you with a full range of Human Resources functions, schedule a time to speak with our experienced team today. 

Kansas City PEO Small Businesses Contact Kansas Missouri

Written by Steve Donovan

Get HR Updates

Table of Contents

Forcing a Return to the Office: What Employers Need to Know

forcing a return to the office
building a positive workplace culture

6 Benefits of Building a Positive Workplace Culture

Let us know what you think...