Senate Bill 1314 Amends California's Unemployment Insurance Code
Governor Jerry Brown signed SB 1314 on September 17, 2014, enacting legislation that extends the time period to appeal an award or denial of unemployment benefits by the Employment Development Department (EDD). Human Resources managers and employees alike look to take advantage of the additional time to evaluate claims and the related benefits of pursuing an appeal through EDD.
California's Unemployment Insurance System
The Employment Development Department (EDD) administers California's unemployment insurance system. California employers fund the unemployment insurance system using a predetermined percentage of their payroll tax payments. Employer payments are held by the EDD in a special reserve fund, which is used to pay unemployment benefits to employees who have become unemployed through no fault of their own. As benefits are debited from an employer's reserve fund, the employer may begin to pay higher tax rates to replenish their fund.
California employees qualify for benefits under various circumstances. Employees who are part of a layoff are usually eligible for unemployment benefits, as are some employees who are involuntarily discharged. Employees who were discharged for “willful misconduct”, such repeated absenteeism or insubordination, will likely be ruled ineligible for unemployment benefits. In cases where the misconduct was limited to a single or isolated incident, the employee may still qualify for benefits. Voluntary resignations due to circumstances other than departures due to “good cause” (e.g. leaving due to unsafe working conditions or harassment by a supervisor) will likely not qualify for unemployment benefits.
Impact of SB 1314
Prior to SB 1314, an employer or employee had 20 days from the date of notice of an EDD ruling to seek an appeal or the reconsideration of an unemployment benefits determination. SB 1314 amends California's Unemployment Insurance Code to extend the time to seek reconsideration or appeal of a benefits ruling from 20 to 30 days. The new 30 day deadline applies to 1) appeals of an EDD benefits determination to an administrative law judge, as well as 2) an appeal of an administrative law judge's ruling to the California Unemployment Insurance Appeals Board.
Starting on July 1, 2015, when SB 1314 becomes effective, HR managers will have an additional 10 days to thoroughly evaluate an appeal. This additional time should allow managers to identify cases where the termination may have been the result of an isolated incident, not due to repeated offenses by the employee. It may also allow the HR manager to review the employee's claims, and those of witnesses, to determine if the employee had a sound reason to voluntary leave the company. Lastly, the additional time may allow HR managers to properly file appeals in a timely manner, decreasing the likelihood of denial due to a late filing.
Experienced California Employment Lawyers
SB 1314 is but one of many new employment laws going into effect in 2015. If you have questions about California's Unemployment Insurance Code, or any California's new employment laws, don't hesitate to contact leading California employment lawyers at Kingsley & Kingsley. Call toll-free at (888) 500-8469 or click here to contact us.