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Employer FAQs

What is "Unemployment Benefit Compensation"?

The Oklahoma Employment Security Act provides that under certain conditions payments of money may be made to unemployed individuals from an unemployment compensation fund contributed to by employers subject to the Act.

Who pays the Unemployment Benefit Compensation Tax?

Oklahoma employers and nonprofit organizations (other than those described in Section 501 (c) (3) of the IRS Code) pay the tax if they employ one or more workers in each of twenty different calendar weeks during a calendar year or if they have a payroll of $1,500.00 in a calendar quarter or are liable under the Federal Unemployment Tax Act.

Nonprofit organizations as described in Section 501 (c) (3) of the IRS Code will be liable if they employ four or more workers in each of twenty different calendar weeks during a calendar year.

All state agencies, cities, towns, counties, public trusts or local school districts, including nonprofit elementary and secondary schools, also pay unemployment taxes.

Agricultural employers who have a total payroll of $20,000.00 in any calendar quarter during a calendar year or have ten or more employees in twenty different calendar weeks during a calendar year are required to pay this tax.

Domestic employers such as private homes, local college clubs or local chapters of college fraternities or sororities who pay $1,000.00 cash remuneration in any calendar quarter during a calendar year must also pay the tax.

What must an individual earn to qualify?

In Oklahoma, a claimant can qualify if, during his base period, he received wages from employers subject to the Oklahoma Employment Security Act amounting to: (1) not less than $1,500.00 and (2) one and one-half times the amount of wages during that quarter of the base period in which such wages were highest. However, any claimant with $20,100 or more of taxable base period wages is eligible even of these wages were all in one quarter.

What is a "Base Period"?

The base period is the first four of the last five completed calendar quarters immediately preceding the first day of a claimant's benefit year.

The following example illustrates a base period:

Wage Base Period
This Year Last Year Prev
Year
If claim
filed in
Jan-Feb-Mar
The
base
period
is -
      July
Aug
Sept
Apr
May
June
Jan
Feb
Mar
Oct
Nov
Dec
 
If claim
filed in
Apr-May-Jun
The
base
period
is -
    Oct
Nov
Dec
July
Aug
Sept
Apr
May
June
Jan
Feb
Mar
 
 
If claim
filed in
Jul-Aug-Sep
The
base
period
is -
  Jan
Feb
Mar
Oct
Nov
Dec
July
Aug
Sept
Apr
May
June
   
 
If claim
filed in
Oct-Nov-Dec
The
base
period
is -
Apr
May
June
Jan
Feb
Mar
Oct
Nov
Dec
July
Aug
Sept
     

What is a "Benefit Year"?

It is the period of one year beginning on Sunday of the week in which the claimant first files a valid claim.

What is a "Valid Claim"?

A valid claim is one which has been filed in accordance with rules of the Commission by a claimant who has the necessary qualifying wages.

What must a claimant do to claim benefits?

Claimants are encouraged to register for work at a State Employment office and file a claim in order to establish unemployment benefit rights. A notice is mailed to the last covered employer for whom the claimant worked at least 15 working days. The claimant must continue to file claims as directed by the Employment Service. On each continued claim filed, the claimant must certify as to his/her eligibility to receive unemployment compensation.

What are the requirements for receiving benefits?

A claimant must be separated from work or working less than full time, be registered and diligently seeking work during each week in which he/she applies for benefits, and be able to work and available to perform work duties in keeping with education, training and experience. A claimant must not be full-time, self-employed, not working full-time on a commission, and not receiving or seeking any unemployment benefits under an unemployment compensation law of another state or of the United States.

How much can a claimant be paid?

The amount is determined by the qualifying wages paid to a claimant during the base period. In Oklahoma, payments range from a minimum of $16.00 to a maximum of $386.00 per week. The number of weeks a claimant can receive unemployment compensations during their benefit year is limited to 26 times their weekly benefit amount, or 25 percent of the average annual wage, or 50 percent of the claimant's wages, whichever is lesser.

Can a claimant who quits work receive unemployment benefits?

A claimant who voluntarily leaves their last work without good cause connected to the work is subject to a disqualification which denies benefits until the claimant becomes re-employed and has earned wages equal to or in excess of ten (10) times their weekly benefit amount.

Can a claimant who is fired from their last work receive unemployment benefits?

A claimant who is discharged from their last work for misconduct connected with the work is subject to disqualification which denies benefits until the claimant becomes re-employed and has earned wages equal to or in excess of ten (10) times their weekly benefit amount.

What is "Misconduct"?

Generally, misconduct is an act which is either willful or is an intentional disregard of the employer's interest.

Can a claimant refuse an offer of suitable work and receive unemployment benefits?

An individual shall be disqualified to receive benefits if he/she shall have failed to do any of the following:

(1) Diligently search for suitable employment at a pay rate generally available in that area of the state in keeping with his/her prior experience, education and training.

(2) Make applications for work with employers who could reasonably be expected to have work available within that general geographic area of the state.

(3) Present himself or herself as an applicant for employment in a manner designed to encourage favorable employment consideration.

(4) Accept an offer of work from an employer including any former employer.

(5) Apply for or accept work when so directed by the Employment Service or the Commission.

(6) Accept employment pursuant to a hiring hall agreement when so offered.

Any individual who shall have failed in the requirements of the first three stipulations shall be disqualified for the week in which such failure occurred. Also, an individual who shall have failed in the requirements of the last three stipulations shall be disqualified for the week in which such failure occurred and such disqualification shall continue until the individual has become re-employed and has earned wages equal to or in excess of ten (10) times his/her weekly benefit amount. Any individual who shall have failed in any of the requirements of paragraphs 4, 5, or 6 due to illness, death of a family member or other extenuating circumstances beyond his/her control shall be disqualified for regular benefits under this section only for the week of the occurrence of such circumstance beyond his/her control. Further, any individual who is disqualified under this subsection only for the week of the occurrence of such circumstances beyond his/her control shall not thereafter be or become eligible for extended benefits for the purposes of sections 2-701 through 2-724 of this title until such individual has become re-employed and has earned wages equal to at least ten (10) times his/her weekly benefit amount.

What other conditions prevent claimant from receiving unemployment benefits?

An individual who ceases work by reason of a labor dispute or strike against their employer is ineligible for benefits so long as they participate in such dispute and voluntarily remain out of employment by reason thereof, except where the employer has locked out the employees. Labor dispute issues are forwarded to the Appeal Tribunal for decisions. 

Other denials are applied:

(1) In cases involving fraud or misrepresentation.

(2) If the claimant is not able and/or available for work in keeping with their prior work experience, training and education.

(3) Between two successive seasons, if benefits are based on services performed as a professional athlete, if such services were performed in the first of the two seasons and there is reasonable assurance of performing such services in the second of such seasons.

(4) If the claimant is an alien who is not lawfully permitted to work in the United States.

(5) Between two academic years or terms if there is reasonable assurance that the claimant will perform such services in the second of such academic years or terms. School employees are ineligible during customary vacation periods or holiday recesses if they have reasonable assurance of returning to work.

(6) If the claimant is enrolled in and entering into scheduled school activities and is not willing to quit school, adjust class hours or change shifts in order to secure employment.

(7)  A claimant's earnings after the beginning of a previous benefit year in which benefits were paid must equal ten times the weekly benefit amount in the new benefit year.

Payments will also be denied or reduced by:

(1) Receipt of dismissal and/or severance payments required by law or contract.

(2) Receipt of unemployment benefits under an unemployment compensation law of another state or of the United States.

(3) Receipt of a pension or retirement pay based on previous work if such payment is under a plan maintained, or contributed to, by a base period employer.

(4) Wages received from partial employment.

(5) Receipt of vacation and/or sick leave payments in a circumstance when required to return to work on a specifically named date or at the end of a specific vacation.

Are you notified of claims filed?

Yes, if you are the last employer for whom the claimant worked at least 15 working days. The office through which the claim was filed will mail to you a form entitled "Notice of Application for Unemployment

Can you protest payment of a claim?

Yes, you should file a protest upon receiving a "Notice of Application for Unemployment Compensation" when you know of any reason why the claimant should not receive Unemployment Benefits. Your reply in writing must be postmarked within ten (10) days of the date the notice was mailed. If you do not reply within ten days, you may be contacted by telephone for job separation or other information. Telephone contact does not mean you are an interested party.

If the individual voluntarily left work or was discharged by you, your protest should include full and complete facts. In the case of a voluntary quit, include the reason the individual gave you for leaving and explain why you do or do not think the reason was justified. In the case of a discharge for misconduct explain in detail the nature of the misconduct.  If you fail to provide specific facts required by Section 2-503 of the Oklahoma Employment Security Act, your protest will be considered insufficient and you will not be considered an interested party to any determination made on the separation.  As a result, you will lose appeal rights to the determination.

What reply do you receive in response to a protest?

When an employer's timely protest is received, the employer becomes an interested party to the claim and will be mailed a notice of the determination made in regard to the claim. The determination is furnished on a form entitled, "Notice of Determination."

If the claimant does not have sufficient wages within their base period to qualify for unemployment compensation, the employer will be notified by letter.

Can you appeal a determination?

Either the employer or the claimant may file an appeal if either party disagrees with the determination. This appeal must be in writing and postmarked or received  within the time indicated on the determination.  If no appeal is filed within the time period indicated on the determination, the determination becomes final, and benefit payments will be made or denied based on the determination.

What happens when an appeal is filed?

When an appeal is received from either the claimant or the employer, the Appeal Tribunal schedules a hearing and notifies all interested parties of the time and the place of the hearing. Testimony given in these hearings is under oath and is recorded. An Administrative Hearing Officer considers the record and renders the decision. Copies of the decision are mailed to all interested parties. Further appeal from this decision may be made to the Board of Review within ten days from the date of mailing the decision. After the opinion of the Board of Review is issued, further appeal may be made within ten days to the district court having jurisdiction.

 

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