Florida Senate - 2017                                    SB 1148
       By Senator Rader
       29-00431A-17                                          20171148__
    1                        A bill to be entitled                      
    2         An act relating to unemployment compensation; amending
    3         s. 443.091, F.S.; requiring the Department of Economic
    4         Opportunity to designate an alternative base period in
    5         certain circumstances for benefit years commencing
    6         after a specified date; defining the term “alternative
    7         base period”; providing for the determination of
    8         eligibility for benefits when certain information is
    9         inaccessible; authorizing the department to consider
   10         an affidavit from the claimant attesting to wages;
   11         requiring that benefits be adjusted in certain
   12         circumstances; requiring the department to request by
   13         mail information on wages from employers in certain
   14         circumstances; requiring employers to provide wage
   15         information to support an individual’s eligibility for
   16         benefits upon request of the department; providing a
   17         penalty for employers who fail to timely provide that
   18         information; providing that certain wages in a base
   19         period may not be used in the calculation of
   20         eligibility for benefits in a subsequent benefit year;
   21         amending s. 443.101, F.S.; redefining the term “good
   22         cause”; providing an effective date.
   24  Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida:
   26         Section 1. Paragraph (g) of subsection (1) of section
   27  443.091, Florida Statutes, is amended to read:
   28         443.091 Benefit eligibility conditions.—
   29         (1) An unemployed individual is eligible to receive
   30  benefits for any week only if the Department of Economic
   31  Opportunity finds that:
   32         (g) She or he has been paid wages for insured work equal to
   33  1.5 times her or his high quarter wages during her or his base
   34  period, except that an unemployed individual is not eligible to
   35  receive benefits if the base period wages are less than $3,400.
   36         1. For a benefit year commencing on or after January 1,
   37  2018, if an individual is not eligible in the base period to
   38  qualify for benefits, the department must designate an
   39  alternative base period. As used in this paragraph, the term
   40  “alternative base period” means the four completed calendar
   41  quarters immediately preceding the first day of an individuals
   42  benefit year. If the department is unable to access wage
   43  information through its mainframe database for determining
   44  eligibility for benefits based on the individual’s alternative
   45  base period, the department may base the determination on
   46  information submitted in an affidavit submitted by the claimant
   47  attesting to his or her wages for those calendar quarters. The
   48  individual must also furnish payroll information, if available,
   49  in support of the affidavit. Benefits based on an alternative
   50  base period must be adjusted if the quarterly report of wage
   51  information received from the employer under s. 443.141 results
   52  in a change in the monetary determination.
   53         2. If information regarding wages for the calendar quarters
   54  immediately preceding the benefit year has not been entered into
   55  the department’s mainframe database from the Employers Quarterly
   56  Reports (UCT-6) submitted under s. 443.163 or is otherwise
   57  unavailable, the department shall request the information from
   58  the employer by mail. The employer shall provide the requested
   59  information within 10 days after the department mails the
   60  request. An employer who fails to provide the requested wage
   61  information within the required time is subject to the penalty
   62  for delinquent reports imposed under s. 443.141.
   63         3. Base period wages that were used in the calculation of
   64  eligibility for benefits in 1 benefit year may not be used in
   65  the calculation of eligibility in a subsequent benefit year.
   66         Section 2. Paragraph (a) of subsection (1) of section
   67  443.101, Florida Statutes, is amended to read:
   68         443.101 Disqualification for benefits.—An individual shall
   69  be disqualified for benefits:
   70         (1)(a) For the week in which he or she has voluntarily left
   71  work without good cause attributable to his or her employing
   72  unit or has been discharged by the employing unit for misconduct
   73  connected with his or her work, based on a finding by the
   74  Department of Economic Opportunity. As used in this paragraph,
   75  the term “work” means any work, whether full-time, part-time, or
   76  temporary.
   77         1. Disqualification for voluntarily quitting continues for
   78  the full period of unemployment next ensuing after the
   79  individual has left his or her full-time, part-time, or
   80  temporary work voluntarily without good cause and until the
   81  individual has earned income equal to or greater than 17 times
   82  his or her weekly benefit amount. As used in this subsection,
   83  the term “good cause” includes only that cause attributable to
   84  the employing unit which would compel a reasonable employee to
   85  cease working or attributable to the individual’s illness or
   86  disability requiring separation from his or her work. Any other
   87  disqualification may not be imposed. An individual is not
   88  disqualified under this subsection for voluntarily leaving
   89  temporary work to return immediately when called to work by the
   90  permanent employing unit that temporarily terminated his or her
   91  work within the previous 6 calendar months, or for voluntarily
   92  leaving work to relocate as a result of his or her military
   93  connected spouse’s permanent change of station orders,
   94  activation orders, or unit deployment orders.
   95         2. Disqualification for being discharged for misconduct
   96  connected with his or her work continues for the full period of
   97  unemployment next ensuing after having been discharged and until
   98  the individual is reemployed and has earned income of at least
   99  17 times his or her weekly benefit amount and for not more than
  100  52 weeks immediately following that week, as determined by the
  101  department in each case according to the circumstances or the
  102  seriousness of the misconduct, under the department’s rules
  103  adopted for determinations of disqualification for benefits for
  104  misconduct.
  105         3. If an individual has provided notification to the
  106  employing unit of his or her intent to voluntarily leave work
  107  and the employing unit discharges the individual for reasons
  108  other than misconduct before the date the voluntary quit was to
  109  take effect, the individual, if otherwise entitled, shall
  110  receive benefits from the date of the employer’s discharge until
  111  the effective date of his or her voluntary quit.
  112         4. If an individual is notified by the employing unit of
  113  the employer’s intent to discharge the individual for reasons
  114  other than misconduct and the individual quits without good
  115  cause, as described in sub-subparagraph 5.a., before the date
  116  the discharge was to take effect, the claimant is ineligible for
  117  benefits pursuant to s. 443.091(1)(d) for failing to be
  118  available for work for the week or weeks of unemployment
  119  occurring before the effective date of the discharge.
  120         5. As used in this subsection, the term good cause” means:
  121         a. Cause attributable to the employing unit which would
  122  compel a reasonable employee to cease working;
  123         b. Cause attributable to an illness or disability of the
  124  individual which requires separation from work; or
  125         c. Domestic violence, as defined in s. 741.28, verified by
  126  reasonable and confidential documentation, which causes the
  127  individual reasonably to believe that such individual’s
  128  continued employment would jeopardize his or her safety, the
  129  safety of any member of his or her immediate family, or the
  130  safety of other employees.
  131         Section 3. This act shall take effect July 1, 2017.