Handling UI Claims in Texas
Most Texas businesses with five or more years under their belt have received at least one letter from the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) notifying them that a former employee has applied for unemployment compensation. Usually, this notice triggers business owners to do one of two things:
- Dismiss the letter as unimportant and pretend it never happened, or
- Immediately sit down and draft a long, colorful response about how the ex-employee in question was about as useful as an umbrella in a hail storm.
For the sake of your business, resist the temptation to follow either of these paths. For starters, the UI claims process moves along swiftly, follows rigid calendar deadlines, and can result in substantial payment increases for Texas companies. In addition, TWC claim examiners look for specific words and scenarios in your response to decide whether or not to pay an unemployment claim. Precise, prompt, and honest responses are the best way to protect your business against a UI rate hike.
Here are six more tips for business owners who receive unemployment insurance claim notices from the TWC:
1. Respond to Claim Notices in a Timely Manner
Most employers only have 14 days to respond to a claim notice. Waiting longer than that will usually cost an employer its right to appeal if benefits are awarded.
2. Avoid Derogatory Remarks in Your Response
Keeping your response based in fact and free of personal attacks shows the claim examiner that you run a professional business and helps avoid any claimant bias.
3. Gather Any Evidence You May Need to Back Your Side of the Story
These matters often break down into he-said-she-said conversations. As a business owner, your best weapon in the fight against improper UI claims is supporting documentation. Many employers wait until after they have lost an unemployment claim appeal before implementing good record-keeping practices. A knowledgeable employment law attorney can help you draft solid warning notices and termination letters.
4. Be Consistent In Your Written Response and Telephone Conversations With Claim Examiners
You had better believe that TWC claim examiners are taking notes during your telephone calls with them. Inconsistent stories are a key indicator for examiners that they are not hearing the whole truth. Save yourself the stress of having to remember what happened by taking a few minutes when you receive a claim notice to write a couple of paragraphs summarizing the claimant’s employment history and why they were let go.
5. Avoid Vague Language in Your Response
Providing details regarding an ex-employee’s discharge demonstrates your personal knowledge of the matter and allows the claim examiner to read between the lines in the event that you neglect to include the proper response language.
6. Incorporate the F.A.I.R. Points Whenever Possible
The F.A.I.R. acronym is something I came up with that summarizes the information employers should aim to include in any claim notice response – assuming the statements are true, of course:
- F – In this case, you followed any policies your business has regarding your normal employee termination process.
- A – Your ex-employee was aware or should have been aware of the reasons he or she was terminated prior to termination.
- I – The claimant’s termination resulted from a particular incident of misconduct close to the time of discharge.
- R – Your former employee was treated like a regular employee would have been treated in a similar situation and was not singled out for any reason.
For more information about the Texas unemployment insurance claims process, visit the TWC website or speak with your business attorney.