HB 2040 - Hudson - Unemployment compensation; failure to respond, continuation of benefits, repayment of overpayments. (Reported from Senate Commerce and Labor Committee with Substitute and referred to Senate Finance Committee 12-Y 2-N)
- Provides that an employer shall be deemed to have established a pattern of failing to respond timely or adequately to written requests for information relating to claims if the Virginia Employment Commission determines that the employer has failed to respond timely or adequately to a written request for information relating to a claim on two or more occasions within a 48-month window and requires such employer to pay a penalty upon his second such failure to respond timely or adequately.
- Under current law, such pattern is established after four failures, and the penalty is assessed after the third failure. The bill provides that if an employer fails to respond timely or adequately to a written request by the Commission for information relating to a claim, the employer forfeits any appeal rights to that claim.
- The bill provides that when a claimant has begun receiving unemployment benefits, such benefits shall continue to be paid under a presumption of continuing entitlement unless or until a deputy determines, in a process providing notice and opportunity to be heard to the claimant, that the claimant is ineligible or disqualified.
- The bill provides that an individual who receives an overpayment of unemployment benefits is not liable to repay the overpayments to the Commission if the Commission determines that (i) the overpayment was not due to fraud, misrepresentation, or willful nondisclosure on the part of the recipient and its recovery would be against equity and good conscience; (ii) the overpayment was a direct result of inducement, solicitation, or coercion on the part of the employer; or (iii) the overpayment occurred due to administrative error. The bill requires the Commission to waive an overpayment of benefits under a federal unemployment benefit program if the program authorizes the waiver. The bill provides that any person who receives an overpayment of benefits is not required to repay such overpayment if the Commission determines that the overpayment was made because the employer failed to respond timely or adequately to a written request by the Commission for information relating to the claim. Finally, the bill prohibits a determination with respect to benefit overpayments to be issued until after a determination or decision that finds a claimant ineligible or disqualified for benefits previously paid has become final.
- Provides that, under specific conditions related to the COVID-19 virus, work will not be deemed suitable and benefits will not be denied to any otherwise eligible individual for refusing to accept new work if (i) the individual presents satisfactory evidence that such individual (a) has tested positive for COVID-19, (b) has been otherwise directed by a physician to quarantine due to COVID-19, or (c) is providing care for an immediate family member who has tested positive for COVID-19; or (ii) the individual has a reasonable belief, based on satisfactory evidence, that the workplace is unsafe because it does not meet governmental-mandated COVID-19 health and safety standards for the workplace, including standards issued by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the Department of Labor and Industry, or the Department of Health, or through an executive order or directive issued by the Governor.
- The bill provides, that for individuals who refuse to accept an offer of work based on such conditions, no benefits charges will be deemed to be the responsibility of the previous employer, unless the individual has refused an offer to return to work to his previous employer because the individual has a reasonable belief that the workplace is not in compliance with the Department of Labor and Industry's standards for the prevention of COVID-19.
- The provisions of the bill expire 30 days after the expiration or revocation of all states of emergency declared by the Governor related to the COVID-19 pandemic.