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Plain Language Summary of 2011 UI Law Changes

A complete Plain Language Summary (PDF) of Wisconsin Act 198 and 236

Summary of Items in 2011 Wisconsin Act 198 and Act 236

Other Changes

Offset Department of Treasury payments to recover benefit overpayments resulting from claimants’ erroneous wage reports

Currently, the department is authorized by statute to recover a claimant’s liability for benefit overpayments resulting from fraud (e.g., the claimant’s concealment of work and wages) from federal income tax refunds. Act 198 extends the offset to overpayments due to misreported wages that were not intentionally concealed.

EFFECTIVE DATES of ss. 108.16(6)(L), (6m) (g), and (10) and 108.22 (8) (b) 1. d.: Satisfaction of liabilities outstanding on April 22, 2012.

Create more explicit standards for determining “employer”; and limited exception

When more than one entity affects control of an employee, current law provides no clear standard as to which is the employer for purposes of UI tax obligations. Act 198 establishes general standards for determining the employer in these cases. It also prescribes an exception for certain employers providing home health care and personal care services funded by medical assistance allowing them to elect to be the employer of employees providing such services. To qualify for an election, the provider must meet these requirements: the provider must notify, in writing, the recipient of the services of its election, for purposes of UI law, to be the employer of any worker providing services to the recipient, and must be treated as the employer by the IRS for purposes of federal UI taxes on the worker’s services.

EFFECTIVE DATE for treatment of s. 108.065: Services performed after December 31, 2011.

Create two separate nonlapsible trust funds: an unemployment interest payment fund, and an unemployment program integrity fund

Currently, when the Wisconsin unemployment reserve fund lacks sufficient money needed to fully pay claims the department is authorized to borrow from the federal government. The department then levies an annual interest assessment to cover interest due on federal advances. Interest earned on assessments received is held in the Interest and Penalty Account (I&P).

Act 198 creates a separate, nonlapsible trust fund called the “Unemployment Interest Payment Fund” for deposit of all unencumbered moneys collected as interest assessments previously made and to be made in the future. Interest earned on the proceeds of assessments pending transfer to the federal government and any interest or penalties collected from employers who are delinquent in paying their assessments are credited to the segregated Unemployment Interest Payment Fund.

Act 198 provides that the department shall use the moneys in the fund to make interest payments due to the federal government on advances made to the unemployment reserve fund. It directs the department to use excess moneys in the fund to pay interest due in future years, or if it determines that additional interest obligations are unlikely, to transfer the excess to the balancing account.

Act 198 also makes delinquent assessments subject to a simplified collection procedure under s. 108.22 (1m) that is currently used by the department for collection of other UI liabilities.

Finally, Act 198 creates a separate, nonlapsible trust fund designated the “Unemployment Program Integrity Fund” consisting of all amounts collected as a 15% penalty for benefit overpayments due to claimant fraud under newly created s. 108.04(11)(bh).

Act 236 provides that the Unemployment Program Integrity Fund is repealed on January 1, 2014.

EFFECTIVE DATES of ss. 108.19 (1q) and (1s) and 108.22(1m):

  • §108.19 (1q) creation of the “Unemployment Interest Payment Fund”: April 22, 2012.
  • §108.19(1s) creation of the “Unemployment Program Integrity Fund”: October 21, 2012.

The repeal of s. 108.19 (1s): first applies with respect to overpayments established by the department of workforce development after October 21, 2013.

  • §108.22(1m): Liabilities on assessments under section 108.19(1m) made on and after January 1, 2011.

Reduce restrictions on department’s hiring of temporary appeal tribunals

The current statute provides that the department is required to appoint only permanent employees as UI appeal tribunals. (“Appeal tribunal” means unemployment administrative law judge.) However, the statute also provides that the department may appoint a “temporary reserve appeal tribunal” if the individual appointed “formerly served as an appeal tribunal while employed by the department and retired from state service as a permanent employee.” Act 236 allows the department the flexibility to appoint any attorney licensed to practice in this state as a temporary employee (LTE) to serve as a temporary appeal tribunal.

EFFECTIVE DATE of s. 108.09 (3)(a)2: April 22, 2012.

Require that appeal tribunal decisions be consistent with federal and state law

Appeal tribunals hear and decide disputed unemployment benefit and tax and other matters arising under the unemployment insurance law. Act 236 specifies that the decisions of the administrative law judges (appeal tribunals) are to be consistent with relevant state and federal law.

EFFECTIVE DATE of s. 108.09 (3)(b): April 22, 2012