PA 15-158—HB 6707

Labor and Public Employees Committee

AN ACT CONCERNING THE LOSS OF AN OPERATOR LICENSE DUE TO A DRUG OR ALCOHOL TESTING PROGRAM AND UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS

SUMMARY: This act expands the circumstances in which a private-sector employer can discharge or suspend an employee without affecting the employer's unemployment taxes. It creates a “non-charge” against an employer's experience rate for employees discharged or suspended because they failed a drug or alcohol test while off duty and subsequently lost a driver's license needed to perform the work for which they were hired. (The law disqualifies a person from operating a commercial motor vehicle for one year if he or she is convicted of driving under the influence (DUI). ) In effect, this allows the discharged or suspended employee to collect unemployment benefits without increasing the employer's unemployment taxes.

The act also makes minor and technical changes.

EFFECTIVE DATE: October 1, 2015

UNEMPLOYMENT EXPERIENCE RATES AND NON-CHARGES

In general, a portion of a private-sector employer's unemployment insurance taxes is based on the employer's “experience rate,” which reflects the amount of unemployment benefits paid to former employees. Typically, laying off employees leads to a higher experience rate and higher unemployment taxes for the employer. The law, however, allows several non-charging separations in which an employee can collect benefits that are not charged against a former employer's experience rate (e. g. , voluntarily leaving work to care for a seriously ill spouse, parent, or child), and thus do not increase the employer's unemployment taxes.

The act expands the non-charging separations to include instances when an employee is laid off or suspended because he or she lost his or her driver's license after failing a drug or alcohol testing program conducted under state DUI laws while off duty, and as a result, is disqualified from performing the work for which he or she had been hired. In these instances, as with all non-charges, the cost of the benefits paid to the former employee is shared by all employers who pay unemployment taxes.

OLR Tracking: LRH: KS: PF: cmg