Relief of Charging Due to Public Health Emergency

You qualify for relief of UI benefit charging if your employees were laid off due to the public health emergency declared by Executive Order 72 and filed initial unemployment claims for the weeks of March 15, 2020 - March 13, 2021. Due to a recent law change, you will not need to submit a request for charging relief for layoffs that resulted in initial claims for that period except as noted below.

If your employee quit, some employers will need to submit a request for relief of charging if the initial claim relates to the public health emergency declared by Executive Order 72.

How to Request Relief of Charging

Employers should submit forms by the latter of May 14, 2021 or 30 days after receiving notification of the claim.

Unemployment Insurance Relief of Benefit Charges Update

Tuesday, August 31, 2021

The Department of Workforce Development (DWD) is providing an update on its efforts to provide relief of benefit charges for nearly 700,000 unemployment insurance claims, of which 45,000 require a staff member to manually charge benefits. Due to limitations within DWD's antiquated IT system, automation of benefit charging is not possible for some types of complex claims, such as claims that involve school year employers or employers that have a Benefit Amount Reduction (BAR) applied.

Background

The federal CARES Act, signed into law on March 27, 2020, the federal Consolidated Appropriations Act (CAA), signed into law on Dec. 27, 2020 and 2019 Wisconsin Act 185, enacted in April 2020 and modified and extended by 2021 Wisconsin Act 4 on Feb. 25, 2021, provided employers with certain relief of UI benefit charges. Examples of this relief include benefits received through the Work-Share program, forgivable loans and relief of Unemployment Insurance (UI) benefit charging. Each new legislative change significantly altered program rules, requiring additional IT work and training for staff.

Estimates showed that to manually recharge each claim, DWD would have been required to hire 120 additional staff at a calculated salary and fringe cost of $33.05 per hour working full time for 77 weeks to complete the project, at a cost of more than $12.2 million. This estimate does not include the additional costs associated with recruitment, equipment and a minimum of two weeks paid training per new hire. To expedite UI benefit charging relief, DWD contracted with a vendor to assist with automating the recharging process. Even with the assistance of the automated process, approximately 45,000 complex claims require manual charging.

DWD Solution

The UI benefit charging automation project began on December 17, 2020. DWD secured the services of a vendor to automate the process to dramatically reduce the potential for data entry errors and to avoid the heavy cost of hiring, training, and equipping a significant amount of staff to manually enter what was initially estimated to be nearly 1 million benefit claims.

Testing of the automated system began in April 2021. Validating charging information in the UI mainframe is a manual review and takes in-depth knowledge of the requirements to complete. The project is challenging due to the complexity of the rules and DWD's antiquated IT system. At this time, the Department estimates that recharging will be completed in early 2022.

Emergency Rule Status

DWD promulgated emergency rules to prevent reimbursable employers from being charged interest on accounts and to ensure that benefit charges and adjustments for March 15, 2020 through March 13, 2021 will not affect employer contribution rates for 2021 or 2022. EmR2118, EmR2112, EmR2108 will likely expire before the project is complete. DWD published Statement of Scope 075-21 on August 30 for a proposed emergency rule revising Wis. Admin. Code chs. DWD 102, 113 and 123 to protect Wisconsin employers from the adverse financial effects of the COVID-19 pandemic until DWD's recharging project is complete.

Employers may contact Tom McHugh with specific questions regarding their account. Please direct any other questions to the DWD Communications Office.