Managing Unemployment by Managing Employment"I cannot believe she filed for unemployment! She didn''t show up to work for 3 days and then has the nerve to try to get ME for unemployment!" This is feedback Arizona PEOs commonly heard from employers not using professional HR consulting services.
Most Arizona employers, particularly those with a high turnover, are painfully familiar with the blue and white envelope sent out by the Arizona Department of Economic Security (DES). That blue and white envelope contains a notice that a former employee has filed for unemployment insurance. Another painfully familiar part of the process is the disbelief that managers feel when they are notified that an employee who quit had the nerve to file for unemployment. How can managers effectively fight the increasing number of claims and protect their company''s experience rating? The best way to manage unemployment is by managing employees.
In the State of Arizona anyone can file for unemployment. Whether a claim is accepted or denied almost always hinges on how well the employee was managed. Employment relationships are terminated for any number of reasons; employees moving, needing more money, discharge for poor performance, bad fit on either side, lay off... the list goes on. When it comes to managing unemployment claims, it is best to begin by managing the employment relationship at the beginning. Once that blue and white envelope arrives it is too late.
Begin the employment relationship by clearly outlining what is expected of the new employee. Do not assume that the employee will absorb all that is expected simply by being trained on the tasks of the new position. Arizona employee handbooks and detailed job descriptions are essential tools for employee management. These should be reviewed on the employee''s first day of work directly after new hire paperwork (tax forms, I-9, confidentiality agreement, etc.) is completed. A review of company policies on attendance, overtime, appearance standards, harassment, computer and phone usage, etc. must be clearly explained if the employee is to be held accountable. As for the responsibilities pertaining to the position, these should be presented in writing to ensure that both parties understand each other. If your company is operating without an employee handbook, employing an Arizona Human Resources outsourcing firm should be given strong consideration.
Now that the new employee has been given the ''rules'' of employment, it will be easy for a manager to identify any noncompliance. Once an issue is identified, a manager must 1) confront the employee, 2) outline the infraction, 3) explain the desired behavior, and 4) document the interaction. Be sure to have the employee sign off on all written documentation. Consistently following these 4 steps of employee management is essential when appealing unemployment claims. If a DES claims adjustor determines that your former employee was unaware of a company policy or had no idea that he was doing something wrong, his claim will be accepted.
Ultimately the Department of Economic Security is trying to determine why the employment relationship ended and whether the employee deserves to receive an unemployment benefit. If an employee voluntarily quit her position it is up to the manager to convince DES that the employee was not acting in the company''s best interest, and more importantly, that she was aware of it. The back side of the Arizona Notice to Employer sheet (the one that arrives in the blue and white envelope) provides a blank area for managers to enter separation information. If an employee did not give notice of resignation ? mention it. If an employee did not report to a scheduled shift ? mention it. If attendance had been an issue with the employee ? mention it.
For a manager who has consistently followed the 4 steps above, fighting the claim of a discharged employee will be easy. Detail warnings both verbal and written. If the employee was warned more than twice, use the exact words, "more than twice." If the employee was on his last warning, state that the employee knew that his job was in jeopardy. If there was a final incident, something that ultimately lead to the employee''s termination, recount the situation and who terminated the employee. Finally, sending copies of written warnings to DES will provide plenty of material for consideration.
When employers have not warned employees or made them aware of the expectations of their positions, employees who file for unemployment, no matter how unfair it seems, will very often be awarded unemployment benefits. For example, if an employee has an attendance problem and is never warned that attendance must improve, DES may view the time away from work as management approved. Addressing employee issues by documenting and communicating them is essential to fighting unemployment claims.
Fighting unemployment claims does not have to be painful. Arizona PEO companies recommend fighting claims with documentation and protecting your unemployment experience rating with effective employee management. Practicing consistent employee management, particularly as it relates to documenting employee issues, relieves the sting of that little blue and white envelope.
By Meredith Meek for http://www.nationalpeo.com/ - National PEO provides HR services to hundreds of companies including Arizona PEO: http://www.nationalpeo.com/ services. Please link to this site when using this article.