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Aug14

Terminated Employee and Unemployment

We recently terminated an employee and we want to know how to avoid paying unemployment benefits to this former employee. We have a policy in place in our handbook and each employee before hire signs an acceptance of the handbook policies agreement form. This former employee had two written warnings and three write ups. After a third write up the employee may be suspended or terminated by the GM and/or Owner. Should we send the write ups to the Texas Workforce Commission or should we wait and see if this former staff member files for unemployment?

It’s best to wait for the previous employee to file for unemployment benefits. Per the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC), once a worker is no longer performing personal services for pay, a work separation has taken place, and the worker is free to file an initial claim for unemployment benefits. Benefits are payable if the claimant shows that he is out of work through no fault of his own and is otherwise eligible. Immediately following the filing of the claim, TWC mails a notice of the initial claim to the last employer. The employer has 14 calendar days in which to file a timely written response and make itself a party of interest with appeal rights.

The TWC recommends filing a response timely with accuracy and thoroughness. Generally, an adequate response must include enough information about potentially disqualifying facts regarding the previous employee’s separation. Thus, any claim response should contain something substantial and factual beyond a mere statement that the employer disagrees with the claim and does not feel that the claimant deserves benefits. The worker’s written warning, write-ups, and handbook policies agreement form should be submitted as evidence to support the employer’s claim that the worker is not eligible for benefits.

A local claims examiner will make an initial determination and inform both parties of the decision. The employer is able file an appeal and request for a hearing within 14 calendar days of the date that TWC mails the ruling. Once an appeal has been filed, the Appeals Department will either dismiss the appeal, issue an on-the-record decision, or set up an appeal hearing.

If an appeals hearing is scheduled, the employer should provide firsthand testimony from witnesses with direct, personal knowledge of the events leading to the claimant’s separation and submit any documentary evidence such as the disciplinary actions and policy acknowledgement forms. The parties involved may offer direct testimony, conduct cross-examination, and make concluding statements. The hearing officer will issue, usually within one calendar week, a written decision either affirming, reversing, or modifying the determination that was appealed.

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This entry was posted on Thursday, August 14th, 2014 at 12:44 pm and is filed under
Human Resources Management.
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