As most employers are already aware, laid off or furloughed employees are eligible for an additional $600 per week in federal unemployment compensation, in addition to state unemployment compensation funding.
With state funding covering about 50% of employees’ salary, the additional $600 may leave many employees making more being unemployed than they were making as active members of the workforce.
Not surprisingly, employees are pushing back or anticipated to push back on employers’ attempts to recall.
Without good cause, employees cannot receive unemployment compensation for any week that they refused an offer of work, provided that the employer notifies the Pennsylvania Department of Labor within seven days of the refusal. Here are three tips for effective and legally defensible recall protocols:
- First, develop and implement a systematic approach to the order of recalling furloughed employees. Unless there is a statute that applies to your industry or a contract or collective bargaining agreement that states otherwise, businesses are generally free to exercise discretion in the order of employee recall. For an exercise of discretion to be legally defensible, a business leader must have an articulable business reason for the decision. Examples of business reasons include business need or value, seniority, order of layoff, or any other reason that is consistent with business necessity. Before recalling employees, it is advisable to take a moment to document a specific order for recall, along with the business rational for your ordering decision.
- Second, put your recall process into practice by sending written notice to all employees being recalled. Even for smaller businesses that contact all recalled employees by phone, providing written notice will give you a trackable record of efforts to offer employment and bring employees back to the workforce.
- Third, be prepared to notify the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry if any employee refuses an offer of employment. Under Pennsylvania Unemployment Compensation Law, employees are ineligible for compensation for any week in which their unemployment is due to their failure, without good cause, to accept suitable work, provided that the employer who offers work notifies the Department of the refusal within seven days from when the offer was made. The Department created a form, UC-1921W, so that employers an notify the Department right away when appropriate work is refused.
If you have any questions, you may contact your own employment counsel, or you may contact me a firstname.lastname@example.org. As always, we will keep you updated!
HR Law Update is a publication of the KingSpry Employment Law Practice Group. Keely Jac Collins is managing editor. HR Law Update is meant to be informational and does not constitute legal advice.