● What does the term “lack of work” mean?
The only time a separation is considered to be “lack of work” is when there is no work available. If an individual leaves employment and the employer immediately or shortly thereafter hires a replacement, the reason for separation is something other than “lack of work”. If it’s the worker who initiated the separation, generally it would be viewed as a “voluntary quit”. If it’s the employer who initiated the separation for reasons other than lack of work, generally the separation would be viewed as a discharge. Whether or not the separation is such to qualify an individual to receive unemployment benefits will be determined through a fact-finding process or response/non-response from the separating employer.
● What is expected of the employer when an individual is separated due to lack of work?
Every time an individual opens or re-opens a claim following a separation from employment, a form is sent to the separating employer requesting certain information. Included on the form is a list of situations where the employer must respond timely. In many cases, if none of the conditions are met, the employer does not have to respond to the separation form, after which the individual’s benefits will be released for payment provided no other issues have been identified. If the reason for separation is other than lack of work, the employer must respond to the separation form within 10 day to avoid a penalty and assessment of benefit charges.
● What if a “return to work” date has been provided?
When an unemployed worker opens or re-opens their claim, he or she will be asked if there is a specific “return to work” date. This date can not be estimated; it must be a fixed date when work will be available. Depending on the duration the individual will be unemployed, he or she may be expected to look for work. If suitable work is found or offered while the individual is filing, he or she will be expected to accept it or face disqualification of benefits. Once work again becomes available for the laid off worker, he or she is free to return to the prior full-time employment.
● Validate or report “return to work” dates. When the employer is responding to a separation notice, it is imperative that the employer validate the “return to work” date indicated if the worker provided one. If the date indicated is incorrect, the employer must correct it, either by return of the form or use of VDOL’s web “Employer Portal”, accessible by the link provided on the left-hand side of all VDOL web pages.
● Employer’s responsibilities associated with lack of work:
ü Review the separation form when received to insure all information contained is correct
ü Carefully review the conditions that require a timely response
ü If there is a “return to work date”, keep the department and worker informed of any changes
ü Utilize VDOL’s web “Employer Portal” (accessible on left-hand side of all VDOL web pages) to advise of any “return to work” updates or changes
ü Contact the department if the worker does not return to work when called back or refuses suitable work; further information on offering suitable work is provided by clicking here.
● Claimant’s responsibilities associated with lack of
ü If there is a “return to work date”, keep the department informed of any changes
ü Remain able and available for work at all times
ü Look for work when directed to do so
ü Accept all suitable work when offered; further information on suitable work is provided by clicking here.
ü Report when filing weekly claims all gross wages earned
ü Report to VDOL any of the situations detailed in the “Responsibility” section of your Claimant Handbook.