Florida businesses have received letters notifying them of their unemployment compensation assessments. Under current law, when the trust fund reaches below a certain level, the tax rate is adjusted to keep the trust fund solvent and paying benefits. Last year, the Florida Legislature delayed implementing the higher tax rate by borrowing money from the federal government (almost $2 billion). There will be some additional legislation this session to reduce the pay-out benefits, but, the trust fund still needs to be kept afloat and the federal government re-paid. There is a $60 million interest payment on those funds due on June 1st.
A Proposed Committee Bill (PCB) that originated in the House Economic Development and Tourism Committee has been receiving House support in its respective committees, which seeks to help Florida employers with their increasing unemployment tax rates by:
- Changing the rule of construction for the statute from being liberally construed in favor of the claimant to a neutral construction,
- Expanding the definition of misconduct, and
- Providing for consideration of hearsay evidence during the benefit appeal process.
The Florida Chamber of Commerce reports HB 7005 not only ties benefits to the state’s unemployment rate, but is in line with Governor Scott’s proposal to reduce, from 26 to 20, the number of weeks unemployed workers may receive benefits. It supports adopting an array calculation in determining the unemployment rate assessed against employers to fairly allocate costs between minimum and maximum experience rating employers.
The Senate version of the bill, SB 728, is expected to appear in the Senate Commerce and Tourism Committee this week. We will keep you posted on this issue.