Employers in New Jersey have long been required by regulation to provide instructions for claiming unemployment benefits to workers who become unemployed. New Jersey’s Unemployment Compensation law was recently amended such that, effective July 1, 2011, employers are required to provide employees with more benefits-related information than was previously required, including information on the time sensitivity of filing a claim for unemployment benefits.

Specifically, the amendments to the New Jersey Unemployment Compensation Law (UC Law) require employers to:

  • Ensure that the benefits instructions that the employer provides to the employee, at the time that the employee becomes unemployed, include information detailing the time sensitivity of filing a claim for unemployment benefits; and
  • Ensure that the benefit instructions that the employer provides are available to employees in a format that can be printed out and given to employees, regardless of whether the unemployment is permanent or temporary.  

In addition, the benefit instructions that the employer provides must include, but not be limited to, the following information:

  • The date that the worker becomes unemployed, and, to the extent possible if the unemployment is temporary, the date upon which the worker is expected to be recalled to work; and
  • Notification that the individual may lose some or all of the benefits to which he/she is entitled if he/she fails to file a claim in a timely manner.  

The amendments further provide that none of these new rules are to be construed to require that an employer re-hire any former employee.

These amendments are important to employees as delays in filing for unemployment compensation benefits may result in the loss of benefits for time periods that the employee would otherwise have been entitled to receive these benefits.

An employer can satisfy these requirements by providing departing employees with a form available on the New Jersey Department of Labor and Workforce Development (NJDOL) web site. This form, referred to as the “BC-10, Instructions for Claiming Unemployment Benefits,” can be downloaded here (click on the link to “BC-10” after the heading, “Employer Forms”).

The failure to provide this information to an employee upon separation from employment may result in a fine of $50.00 to be imposed by the NJDOL on the employer.

One question not answered by the amendments is whether employees who voluntarily terminate their employment are entitled to the notice required by the amendments. The NJDOL has indicated that the notice should be provided to all employees who separate employment and that, if the employer possesses facts that would otherwise disqualify an applicant for unemployment compensation benefits, the employer should make sure that it responds to inquiries from the NJDOL with respect to the specific unemployment compensation claim with that information.

Obviously, many employers are not pleased with this notification and claim processing approach because it seems likely to result in an increase in unemployment compensation claims that need to be responded to and contested, particularly in workplaces where former employees in the past never bothered to file for benefits at all.