Littler

Beginning November 2, 2020, Wisconsin employers will be required to notify workers at separation about the availability of unemployment insurance (UI) benefits pursuant to an emergency rule recently issued by the Department of Workforce Development (DWD).  As in other states, Wisconsin’s DWD has interpreted a provision in the federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) to require promulgation of this rule as a condition for receiving significant federal emergency funding.

Notice Contents

The notice only needs to advise the worker that they can apply for UI benefits.  DWD has posted suggested notice language on its website, which includes the following single sentence and a link to the UI Poster already required under Wisconsin law: “You may file an unemployment claim in the first week that your employment stops or your work hours are reduced.” 

Practical Considerations: To Whom, By When and How

The rule does not distinguish between different types of employee separations, so Wisconsin employers are advised to provide the notification for any and all employee separations, including all separations or other employment actions that might render the employee eligible for UI benefits.  In terms of timing of the notice, the rule does not define “at separation” but as noted below, it is to the employer’s benefit to issue the notice sooner rather than later.  Perhaps recognizing that many workers are still not back working at their traditional work locations, including human resources and compliance staff who often issue UI-related documentation, the DWD rule specifically permits the notice to be sent electronically and not just via U.S. mail, including by email or text. 

Why This Rule Matters

While there is no monetary penalty for failing to provide the notification, a separated worker who does not receive the notice and later applies for UI benefits may be permitted to backdate their claim.  

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