Academic journal article Monthly Labor Review

Changes in Unemployment Insurance Legislation during 1985

Academic journal article Monthly Labor Review

Changes in Unemployment Insurance Legislation during 1985

Article excerpt

Changes in unemployment insurance legislation during 1985

Last year, for the first time in 5 years, the Federal unemployment insurance law was not amended in any way that required States to change their laws. However, the Federal Supplemental Compensation (FSC) Act of 1982 was amended by Public Law 99-15 to phase out payment of FSC benefits. The change specified that only those claimants receiving FSC at the time of phaseout could continue to collect the remainder of their entitlement during uninterrupted periods of unemployment.

In 1985, 12 States1 amended their laws to include tips in the definition of covered wages for tax purposes. To reflect 1983 amendments to the Federal law, a few States2 amended their definitions of covered wages in other respects.

Following is a summary of significant changes in State unemployment insurance (UI) laws during 1985.3


Benefits. The maximum weekly benefit amount was increased from $115 to $125. In July 1986, it will increase to $135.

Disqualification. An individual will be disqualified for voluntarily leaving a job because of commuting difficulties unless he or she can show that the travel requirements are in excess of the normal practice in the occupation and the individual's past practice, or that there are compelling personal circumstances for leaving. Compelling personal circumstances include the need to commute more than 30 miles or for more than 1 1/2 hours from home to work.


Financing. Beginning January 1, 1987, the advance interest tax shall range from 0 to 0.2 percent, depending on the assets of the unemployment insurance fund on the computation date. Shared-work benefits will be charged to employers' experience rating accounts in the same manner as regular benefits. (See Benefits.)

Benefits. The maximum weekly benefit amount will be computed as 66 2/3 percent of the State average weekly wage for the preceding calendar year. A share-work compensation plan was established which provides for 26 weeks of shared-work benefits. Under such plans, workers who go on a short work schedule in order to avert a layoff receive unemployment benefits for the hours of work lost. Benefits are calculated as a proportion of the ordinary benefit amount for a full week of unemployment. Disqualification. The "able to work' and "availability for work' provisions may be waived in the event of the death of a member of an individual's immediate family for the day of death and 6 more calendar days. An individual on short-term layoff shall not be required to register for work or to seek work during layoff if he or she expects to be recalled for full-time work within 8 weeks of the layoff. If an individual is not actively seeking work while serving on jury duty, he or she shall not be disqualified.

Administration. The chairman of the State board of review must be a licensed practicing attorney who is not a representative of employers or employees.


Financing. The option allowing specified public entities to finance benefits through a special contribution system was deleted. These organizations will now be able to choose either fund contributions or fund reimbursement as the financing method. Also repealed was the special reduced rate for an employer whose average base payroll increased 25 percent or more over the previous year's base payroll.


Coverage. Legislation redefined "employer' (excluding agricultural, domestic, or nonprofit organizations) to mean an employing unit which employs at least one individual to perform services at any time. Regulations concerning the exclusion from coverage of services in casual labor were changed to specify that the services will be excluded only if cash remuneration to the provider is less than $50 and if that individual is not regularly employed to perform the services. …

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