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Ocala's Employment Law Firm

421 South Pine Avenue

Ocala, FL 34471

352-433- 2400 - Telephone

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Florida Unemployment Changes 2011

Job hunters beware of the new hurdles that unemployment regulations in Florida have for you.  The first hurdle is the determination of “Misconduct.”  Prior to the new law signed by Governor Rick Scott in June 2011, misconduct was a hard burden for employers to prove to disqualify employees from receiving unemployment benefits.  Starting July 1, 2011, misconduct addressed primarily incidents that occurred in the workplace.  With the 2011 law, misconduct now can include activities outside of the workplace.  This gives employers a better chance to have former employees disqualified.  Neverthesless, the employer still has the burden to prove the incidents that occurred outside of the workplace boundaries.

Another change will be the requirement of direct deposit or the Florida Unemployment Compensation Debit Card.This will be only for applications started after July 1, 2011.  This means no more paper checks.

Beginning on August 1, 2011, those receiving Unemployment Compensation must contact five potential employers every week and document their job search progress online. Prior, claimants were required to maintain a record of their job contacts and were subject to being randomly called about their record. If claimants do not contact the five required

employers, they may not be eligible for their benefits that week.  This is a new requirement due to the high discovered volume of benefit fraud.  Receiving unemployment and not actively searching for work could determined as fraud.

Starting August 1, 2011, all applications for Unemployment Claim as well as weekly claims must now be filed online only through the Agency for Workforce Innovation’s webpage.

Currently, Unemployment Compensation extends for 26 weeks. By January 1, 2012, benefits will be adjusted to a range of 12 to 23 weeks, determined by the state’s unemployment rate.

How long does it take to get Unemployment Benefits in Florida?

The estimitation of the time it took to received unemployment benefits is hard to determine these days.   Before the economic recession, it would possibly take about two to three weeks.  The factor then was how long did it take for the employer to reply to certain earning and employment records sought by the Agency of Workforce Innovation (AWI).

Employers typically have about 10 days to respond with the appropriate forms and data needed. Employers only have 10 days to raise any viable defenses such as an employee has been employed less than 90 days with the company.

However, due to the high volume it can take months before a claimant sees the first benefit check.  The best you can do is call or go online with AWI to check the status.

In addition, be careful.  Just because you are awarded benefits does not mean that the employer or the AWI will not come back months later an appeal the claim.  Typically it should be appealed 20 days after the determination is made.  It might have been appealed timely.

Nevertheless, a claimant can still receive a notice of the appeal and to repay thousands of dollars six to eight months later.  So keep any and all evidence that you are eligible for unemployment for at least one year.  Such evidence is your schedule, last paycheck stub, termination letter, documents from employer releasing you, phone records from leasing agency, etc.

At this time, it is almost impossible to contact AWI over the phone.  The workers are also overwhlem.  The best thing to do is to continue to seek employment ( you may get a job), keep all records of the application, appeal,etc., and pray.

If you need assistance or representation for a telephonic hearing, please feel free to contact my office, the Riggins Law Firm, PA- Danialle Riggins, Esq. - Office : Ocala, Florida.- (352) 433-2400.



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