Unemployment Insurance and Worker’s Compensation Legislation:
Both the Unemployment Insurance Advisory Council and Worker’s Compensation Advisory Council drafted and submitted to the legislature their agreed upon bills for the 2021-2022 session.
The UI agreed upon bill is composed of department proposals. These are non-controversial proposals that the department proposed as clean up language. The following items are some of the items contained in the bill:
Makes clear that a person that has been convicted of a crime in a court of law may not deny or dispute the conviction with respect to eligibility for unemployment benefits.
Exempts wages from students working at summer camps from UI taxes. These individuals are not eligible to claim unemployment benefits so employers should not be taxed for these employees.
Makes permanent the temporary changes to the work share program. This program gives flexibility to allow workers whose hours have been cut to remain employed while being eligible for partial or reduced UI benefits, helping employers and employees by maintaining employment.
Labor initiative: The maximum weekly rate for permanent partial disability will be raised to $415 for injuries occurring in 2022 and $430 for injuries occurring in 2023 and after.
Management initiative: Currently, most part-time wages are automatically expanded to full-time. The bill would change that to stop expansion for employees who restrict employment to part-time. The wage will only be expanded if the part-time employee has additional employment or if the employee has been part-time for less than 12 months. Wage expansion may be rebutted by an employer if they have evidence the employee restricted their employment to part-time.
The other proposals are non-controversial, clean up provisions submitted by the department.
Both of these bills have passed the Assembly and the Senate and await action by Governor Evers. It is expected that he will sign into law both of these bills.
WMC has advocated from the management side of the UI Council for numerous reforms over the years that labor has refused. The legislature decided to pursue some of these reforms outside of the council process.
AB 937: This bill would index the maximum number of weeks of benefits to the rate of unemployment.
AB 939: Allows employers to report to DWD if an individual declines or fails to respond to a job interview or job offer, or fails to attend a scheduled job interview without attempting to reschedule. If a report is found credible by DWD, an individual is ineligible for unemployment for the week in which the claim has been verified. The first verified claim is discarded. DWD is also required to maintain an online portal for employers to file these claims.
AB 883: The bills changes the name of the unemployment insurance program to reemployment assistance and states that the focus of the program should be reemployment. It also requires an individual to post their resume on the Job Center of Wisconsin website within seven days of starting a UI claim to and apply to jobs that could result in a hire as a part of their weekly work search actions. It additionally provides incentives for someone on UI to get a part-time job while maintaining part of their UI benefit. DWD is required to provide a counseling session before an individual’s UI benefits run out and requires DWD to track the employment status for individuals on reemployment assistance after they leave the program to track employment outcomes.
AB 938: This bill makes changes to the misconduct statutes to include destruction of records, unapproved use of a company credit card and violations of an employer’s attendance and social media policies. It also requires DWD to conduct random audits of at least 50% of work search actions, requires DWD to implement identity proofing measures and have a call center with hours that would increase as demand increases to help claimants. All four of these bills have passed both the Assembly and the Senate and await action by Governor Evers. It is expected that he will veto all four of these bills.
Wisconsin Fast Forward Program Now Accepting Applications:
Industry Sectors Worker Training Grants are available to help fund the development of customized worker training programs.
Key features of this grant program: Grants are available to all industry sector companies; Approximately $3 million is available for this grant announcement; Grant award amounts range from $5,000 to $400,000; Cash in in-kind match equal to 50% of the grant award amount is required; Grantee must complete training of at least 85% of the contracted number of trainees; and At least 75% of incumbent trainees receive increased wages.
If you are interested in applying for this grant, please be sure to refer to the grant program announcement for more information and specific requirements.