Monday, May 14, 2012

Changes to OK Unemployment Signed into Law

The new law specifies that an unemployed individual must register for work within seven days of filing the initial claim for unemployment benefits and modifies the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission’s authority to waive the requirement. When determining edibility for benefits, wage requirements during a base period are modified to include taxable wages of any amount and total wages equal to or more than taxable wages in a year.
The measure allows for electronic notification to the employer and claimant in several actions. In any challenge to an employee positive drug or alcohol test, the claimant will have the burden to proof a breach in the chain of custody and the employer must provide such documentation. If the claimant fails to request a confirmation test, the claimant will be ineligible for benefits. The definitions confirmation test and job applicant are modified and circumstances where the employer is authorized to conduct drug and alcohol testing is modified and expanded.
In cases of overpayment of benefits due to fraud, the measure creates a penalty of 25% of the amount of the original overpayment. The measure modifies notice requirements for an employer’s contribution rate and allows the employer to file an appeal to the rate notice; otherwise the rate will become conclusive and binding.
The measure requires a final determination that an employer owes delinquent contributions, penalties, interest or fees where the Commission is authorized to levy to collect such delinquencies. The Assessment Board of the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission, instead of the court, may issue or modify an order to levy. The measure adds new language that authorizes the Commission to collect by levy upon any earnings or contract proceeds of tax debtor and provides a process for proper notice and collection. Furthermore, new language authorizes the Commission to award funds to local offices, divisions, or units in order to encourage the improvement and modernization of employment, training and placement services for veterans.
The measure allows the Office of Juvenile Affairs to obtain employment information for use in assessing results and outcomes of clients and effectiveness of juvenile and justice programs.
Employers are authorized to release records of the tests as admissible evidence, to comply with a judicial or administrative order, or to other specified persons.
This change is the law takes place immediately.

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