The “SharedWork Ohio” program gives Ohio employers new flexibility to keep their workforce intact when experiencing a downturn in business. Instead of layoffs, employers can now reduce the numbers of hours worked across their entire workforce. The program is considered a “win-win” for employees and employers. However, as an employer, there’s more to this program that you need to know.
When implementing this program, the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services (ODJFS) included a new requirement that employers “promptly and adequately” respond to unemployment information requests from ODJFS where “promptly” is within ten working days after the request is sent, and the employer must respond to ALL questions raised by ODJFS to be considered “adequate.” Failure to do this could be extremely costly.
Under Ohio’s Unemployment Compensation Act, unemployment benefits that have been improperly paid to an employee are charged to a “mutualized account” and not charged to the account of the contributing employer. And, if these improperly paid benefits are inadvertently charged to the employer’s account instead of the mutualized account, the law allows for the employer’s account to be credited.
With the requirement to respond “promptly and adequately” introduced with the SharedWork Ohio program, employers who fail to respond appropriately will not be credited for these errors. The law prohibits an employer’s account from being mutualized or credited if in violation of the “promptly and adequately” requirement or if that employer has a history of failing to respond timely or adequately.
As of October 21, 2013, failure to meet this new requirement can result in significant increases in unemployment compensation insurance costs for Ohio employers, so it is critical that Ohio employers review their current practices for responding to ODJFS’ requests for information to ensure the “promptly and adequately” requirement is met.