Preproposal statement of inquiry was filed as WSR 03-14-140.
Title of Rule: Unemployment insurance rules related to an individual's eligibility for benefits, job search requirements, job search monitoring provisions, penalties, overpayments, and the calculation of maximum benefits payable.
Purpose: Chapter 4, Laws of 2003 2nd sp.s. (2ESB 6097) made substantive revisions to the unemployment insurance program. The proposed rules are intended to clarify the requirements of that legislation, define terms, and revise existing rules consistent with the amended statutes.
Statutory Authority for Adoption: RCW 50.12.010, 50.12.040, and 50.12.042.
Statute Being Implemented: Chapter 4, Laws of 2003 2nd sp.s. (2ESB 6097).
Summary: Amends rules to clarify eligibility requirements for individuals with unemployment claims effective prior to January 4, 2004, or January 4, 2004, and later. Rules amended and adopted pertain to appeals, job separations, definitions of terms, notices to employers and claimants, reporting requirements, job search requirements, assessment and collection of overpayments, claimant penalties, and calculation of benefit amounts.
Reasons Supporting Proposal: To provide clarity for employers, claimants, and staff regarding how the changes in the unemployment insurance benefits program will be administered, and to replace obsolete rules with language consistent with the amended statutes.
Name of Agency Personnel Responsible for Drafting: Juanita Myers, 212 Maple Park, Olympia, (360) 902-9665; Implementation and Enforcement: Annette Copeland, 212 Maple Park, Olympia, (360) 902-9303.
Name of Proponent: Employment Security Department, governmental.
Rule is not necessitated by federal law, federal or state court decision.
Explanation of Rule, its Purpose, and Anticipated Effects: Rules in Title 192 WAC are amended or adopted to conform to 2ESB 6097, passed by the 2003 legislature. The legislation made substantive changes in the laws governing eligibility for unemployment benefits, the calculation of benefits, job search requirements, and penalties and requalification requirements for claimants. The rules clarify that the maximum benefits payable on a claim will be permanently reduced to twenty-six times the weekly benefit (from thirty) when the unemployment rate reaches 6.8% or below. The rules further clarify the conditions under which an individual will be determined to have left work voluntarily without good cause or have been discharged for work-related misconduct, and the disqualification periods for such individuals. Rules regarding gross misconduct are adopted.
The job search requirements under the new law are clarified. Policies regarding excused absences from job search review interviews are established, as well as the penalties for failure to participate in a job search review interview when directed.
Overpayment regulations are updated to be consistent with the new law, and the provision that benefits paid to an individual discharged for misconduct are recoverable and repayment cannot be waived.
The changes to the law and regulations will result in fewer individuals qualifying for unemployment benefits, and those who do qualify will be eligible for fewer benefits. This should result in reduced costs to employers.
Proposal Changes the Following Existing Rules: Existing job separation and job search rules are revised to clarify that certain requirements apply only to individuals whose claim is effective prior to January 4, 2004. Certain job separation rules are revised to comply with the new voluntary quit and misconduct sections of 2ESB 6097. Other sections amended simply revise statutory or regulatory citations or references.
No small business economic impact statement has been prepared under chapter 19.85 RCW. The rules will not impose more than minor costs on businesses in an industry or on small businesses in particular. Any costs associated with the changes to the unemployment insurance benefits program result from the legislation, not from the regulations implementing the legislative changes.
RCW 34.05.328 applies to this rule adoption. The rules substantively change existing rules and, as provided in 2ESB 6097, establish qualifications and requirements related to the receipt of unemployment benefits. A copy of the preliminary cost benefit analysis is available from Juanita Myers, Unemployment Insurance Rules Coordinator, at (360) 902-9665 or email@example.com.
Hearing Location: Employment Security Department, Maple Leaf Conference Room, 2nd Floor, 212 Maple Park Drive, Olympia, WA, on July 14, 2004, at 2:30 p.m.
Assistance for Persons with Disabilities: Contact Mary Mendoza by July 13, 2004, TDD (360) 902-9589 or (360) 902-9281.
Submit Written Comments to: Larry Oline, Acting Rules Coordinator, Employment Security Department, P.O. Box 9046, Olympia, WA 98506, fax (360) 438-3226, by July 13, 2004.
Date of Intended Adoption: July 23, 2004.
May 5, 2004
for Dr. Sylvia P. Mundy
Reviser's note: The material contained in this filing exceeded the page-count limitations of WAC 1-21-040 for appearance in this issue of the Register. It will appear in the 04-12 issue of the Register.