News & Press

UTCA Hosts Their 18th Annual Client Update!

Unemployment Tax Control Associates (UTCA) recently hosted its 18th Annual Client Update at the Sheraton Monarch Place Hotel and Conference Center in Springfield, MA.

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Extended Benefits = Extended Recession?!!

In a recent congressional report by the Committee of Ways and Means, the effect of the Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC) program is examined, and the data is staggering. Historical periods of extended benefits and record-breaking costs added to the national debt confirm what many employers (UTCA included) have believed as the US has struggled to create new jobs.

EUC Duration graph

This is a highly recommended read:

http://waysandmeans.house.gov/uploadedfiles/euc_labor_day_report_082814.pdf

 

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Massachusetts Freezes Rates: Law Passage and DUA Guidelines

On 4/15/14, Governor Deval Patrick signed an Unemployment Insurance rate freeze for 2014, eliminating a $500 million increase on employers that took effect January 1.  This bill is a stand-alone measure that does not take up any system reforms but addresses the more immediate need to secure UI payments for Q1/2014, while our legislators consider reform action.  As passed, this law freezes UI contributions at the current Schedule E and keeps the Trust Fund at a healthy $800M and represents the sixth consecutive year the state has prevented an automatic increase in employer UI taxes. With the rate issue now resolved, Massachusetts employers must square up with the UI system for the first quarter of 2014, which has an extended deadline for filing first quarter taxes of May 30, 2014.

According to the Massachusetts Division of Unemployment Assistance (DUA):

  • All employers must submit employment and wage detail no later than April 30.
  • The rates will be loaded the first two weeks in May.
  • During the week of May 19, the system will open back up for employers to make their quarterly contributions.
  • Contributions are due by May 30.

The DUA has also indicated it will work with individual employers seeking deferrals. For the first and second quarters, an employer may check off the deferral option and defer up to one third of the contributions due to the following second and third quarters respectively. You may file and pay online by logging into your account at www.mass.gov/dua.  It is each employer’s responsibility to file the report before the due date. Employers failing to file on the due date may be assessed a penalty. By law, you will be charged interest on all contributions paid after the due date. The interest is 12 percent per year. DUA charges interest on the contributions due starting from the due date until the payment date.

Conversely, the Voluntary Contribution option allows experience-rated employers to make additional UI contributions to reduce their UI contribution rate for the forthcoming calendar year. The Voluntary Contribution process for this year will continue to be a manual process.  Our Tax Department will notify computer VC analysis and provide a written recommendation, including specific payment guidelines and the submission deadline date associated with VC rate buy-downs.

To qualify for the Voluntary Contribution program, an employer:

  • Must be eligible for experience rating;
  • Must have submitted all Employment and Wage Detail Reports; and
  • Must have paid all Unemployment Insurance contributions, interest, and penalties to date.

If you have any questions about this update, please contact Christine Smyth, Finance & Tax Manager at csmyth@utcainc.com or by telephone:  (413) 732-8084 Ext. 101.

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Emergency Unemployment Compensation Extension Act of 2014 Passes the Senate

The EUC temporary extension bill that has been debated for months was finally brought to a vote on the floor of the US Senate as an amendment to HR 3979 late yesterday and passed on a vote of 59 to 38 with three abstentions.  It was significant that the vote on the bill only received 59 votes in favor after earlier obtaining a 61 vote margin on cloture. The bill text is available at http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/BILLS-113hr3979eas/pdf/BILLS-113hr3979eas.pdf

The House is not likely to take up this bill before the Spring recess and even less likely to take it up later in April (one month before the temporary extension would expire).

The substance of the bill as passed is virtually the same as it has been for some time, and continues to include the retroactive application provision to pay claims going back to the week after December 28, 2013 and the “no reduction” provision that would prohibit states from reducing the average weekly benefit amount of benefits as compared to the average as of June 2, 2010. There is a special provision inserted for North Carolina to enable the state to enter an EUC agreement to pay claims beginning December 29, 2013 notwithstanding the enactment of state legislation in 2013 that caused the US DOL to cancel the EUC agreement.

It is possible that a jobs bill could be developed in the House that would include a provision to assist unemployed workers in their work search efforts, and we continue to discuss UI integrity measures as well that would improve the solvency and integrity of the system.

 

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Performance Improvement Plans are effective in more ways than one!

Recently, we received a claim response from an employer indicating “Poor Performance” with regard to a salesman who had been terminated. Comments provided indicated that he had been on a Performance Improvement Plan (PIP) which required him to take his company issued laptop home with him. On the date the decision to discharge was made, the salesman had called out sick, and when the company went into his office, they found his laptop hidden in his desk drawer. The claimant was fired for violating the PIP. The claim was returned to the state as a discharge for misconduct. The claimant had been warned – via the PIP – of the requirement to take his computer home with him each night in an effort to help him meet his sales goals. Evidence that he failed to do so clearly existed. When questioned by the state, the claimant denied knowing he had to take the laptop home and alleged co-workers often left theirs in their office. The signed PIP was crucial to the employer’s case. The form clearly spelled out each and every objective the salesman was to meet. 

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UTCA Navigates Over 100 Employers Through Compliance Changes and New Challenges in Managing Unemployment

Unemployment Tax Control Associates, Inc. (UTCA), the Employers Association of the Northeast, and the Affiliated Chambers of Commerce of Greater Springfield joined forces in October to present to their clients, and members, UTCA’s Annual Client Update – Clearing the Fog: Avoiding the Hidden Unemployment Cost Trap. Over 100 participants came to this exclusive event with renowned unemployment expert, Tim Phelan, VP Client Services & Chief Legal Counsel of UTCA. Tim presented a thought-provoking and insightful overview of the unemployment system in the context of recent law

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UTCA Gets a Big Texas Welcome from the Lone Star state!

Arlington, TX, July 24th 2013 – UTCA was warmly received by a large group of Dallas/Fort Worth area employers as UTCA presented their program “Clearing the Fog: Avoiding the Hidden Unemployment Cost Trap”.  Kicking off the introduction, the Dallas Regional Chamber welcomed UTCA with a commemorative plaque and ribbon-cutting ceremony.  Venerated unemployment expert, Atty. Tim Phelan, engaged the audience, enlightening them on sweeping changes to employer penalties and accountability mandated by the Trade Adjustment Assistance Extension Act of 2011 (TAAEA).  Atty. Phelan stressed to employers the importance of examining their programs to assess process risks, whether managed in-house or by a third party administrator.

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UTCA Kicks Off National Program on New Law Changes & TPA Accountability

Glastonbury CT, May 9, 2013 – In keeping with their corporate mission to educate the UI marketplace nationally, UTCA introduced the first of it’s kind employer program; Clearing the Fog, Avoiding the Unemployment Cost Trap, in Glastonbury, CT at the Hilton Garden Inn Conference Center. Employer participants learned how to better manage their unemployment programs using objective key metrics introduced to the market by UTCA. The program also reviewed effective measures to avoid new penalties associated with the Trade Adjustment Assistance Extension Act (TAAEA), including improving vendor accountability, transparency and contractual protections necessitated by this new federal mandate.

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Learn How to Reduce Unemployment Costs Through Outplacement Programs

UTCA’s March Topic of the Month outlines how to use outplacement programs to reduce on-going unemployment costs.  Many employers believe when a claim has been approved and they’ve chosen not to appeal, there is nothing further they can do to reduce or eliminate payments on a claim. Although there are no absolutes, opportunities exist for the efficient and proactive employer to continue to reduce their own UI liability beyond individual case management practices.

The full Topic of the Month is available to UTCA clients in the On-line Learning section of the website.  If you would like to obtain a full copy of this release please email info@utcainc.com

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Record Overpayments Prompt Penalties for Employers and Their Unemployment Vendors

Springfield MA, March 19, 2013 – Billions in Unemployment Insurance overpayments recorded nationwide, have prompted the Federal Government to mandate state agencies to levy significant penalties on employers and their agents.  In an effort to combat egregious claim processing errors and omissions (resulting in overpayments) effective October 21, 2013, employers and TPA’s must ensure claim response protocols meet new standards associated with timeliness and accuracy.  A single failure to do so, or a pattern of failure, will incur loss of account credits or repayment funds currently provided. States have also been granted the ability to assess monetary and criminal penalties against employers and agents alike. 

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