Wisconsin lawmakers recently lent their approval to new measures set out by Gov. Scott Walker that would increase the number of job searches an unemployed individual in the state must conduct per week in order to remain eligible for unemployment benefits.
Among most stringent requirements in US
Recently, the Wisconsin Legislature's Joint Finance Committee voted 12-4 along party lines to approve new unemployment benefit standards proposed by the state's governor that would require unemployed individuals to conduct at least four job searches a week to retain eligibility for jobless benefits. The measure would double the number of employment searches the jobless in Wisconsin currently have to conduct in order to collect benefits.
The new requirements are expected to pare down the estimated $856 million Wisconsin will spend in 2013 on unemployment insurance, as well as the $464 million in debt the state still owes the federal government for loans taken out to cover unemployment insurance expenses during the economic downturn.
Legislators who backed the provision asserted the increased job search requirements are not aimed at restricting access to jobless benefits, but rather spurring the jobless to find employment.
"The goal of this, let me be real clear, is not to kick people off unemployment insurance with no job," said state Sen. Luther Olsen, according to The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. "This is an honest attempt to motivate people if they're not motivated enough to look for a job."
The updates to unemployment insurance requirements still have to be approved by the Senate and Assembly before they can be enacted.
In some instances, the new rules could require an individual to conduct more than four job searches a week, although state officials said such a requirement would be imposed only in "rare occurrences."
Actions that qualify as searching for a job include: applying to a position, taking a civil service exam, inquiring about job postings and registering with a union hall or staffing industry organization to find work.
According to a brief prepared by the Wisconsin Legislative Fiscal Bureau, only three states require four or more job searches per week; those being North and South Carolina and Florida, which requires five searches.
The new initiative is just the latest attempt at unemployment insurance reform made by Wisconsin. And the state is not the only one doing so in an effort to shed debt and avoid rising FUTA tax rates. Employers must always be certain they are compliant in UI obligations, and working with an HR partner can help them stay informed of the shifting landscape of jobless benefit reform.
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