The Florida Legislature is considering a change to unemployment benefits that would, for the first time in a long while, favor the employer and not the employee. If passed, the measure would reduce unemployment compensation from 26 weeks to 20 weeks. It would also deny benefits for employee misconduct and force employees to accept any offer that paid as much as their unemployment benefit once the worker has been out of work for more than 12 weeks. Marcia Heroux Pounds of the Sun-Sentinel wrote an article earlier this week detailing the proposed changes and reactions from both sides. Find her article here.
While this change will not be received well by the many laid-off workers in Florida (Florida’s unemployment rate was 12% in December 2010), it is the first proposed change we can remember in a long while that might actually favor employers. If the bill passes, it will be interesting to see how the Agency for Workforce Innovation implements some of the less concrete policies, such the denial of benefits for misconduct. Anyone who has dealt with an unemployment claim, at least in the recent past, knows how heavily it is tilted in favor of the employee — absent a case of flagrantly gross “misconduct” the employee almost always receives benefits.
In any event, it will be interesting to see if this bill evens the playing field in that regard. We will keep you posted as the bill makes its way through the Legislature.