If you are an Illinois employer, it is likely that, at some point, you will receive a Notice of Claim from the Illinois Department of Employment Services (IDES) regarding a request for unemployment benefits from a former employee. Such notices should be taken seriously; however, they are not always cause for concern.
When a claim for unemployment benefits is submitted by a former employee (the claimant), IDES sends a notice to every employer that employed the claimant during the past 18 months. The notice is meant to provide each employer with the opportunity to protest the claimant’s eligibility for benefits and is not necessarily a notice that the employer will be liable for the claim. In fact, an employer should only worry about liability, and a corresponding increase in their unemployment tax rate, if they have been branded as the “chargeable employer” by IDES.
There are a number of factors that are used to determine the chargeable employer. The general rule is that the chargeable employer is the last entity to have employed the claimant for at least 30 work days prior to the claim. See 56 Ill. Adm. Code 2765.325 et. seq. If IDES determines that a particular employer is “chargeable”, it must provide proper notice to that employer of its decision. If the employer disagrees with its determination, it has thirty days to file an appeal.
Every employer who receives a Notice of Claim has the ability to protest the claimant’s right to unemployment benefits. Even non-chargeable employers may wish to file a protest. This is especially true if a claim relates to the claimant’s time with the employer or if the employer is concerned that IDES may later conclude that it is the chargeable employer (something that is unlikely, but possible). Protests must be made within seven days of the date of the notice and should relate solely to the claimant’s eligibility for benefits. If an employer fails to protest the claimant’s eligibility at this point, the employer will be barred from doing so in the future.
After a review of the claim and any protests, IDES will send a determination letter stating whether the claimant is entitled to unemployment benefits. If the claimant is eligible, any employer who filed a protest can request a reconsideration of that determination. If denied, IDES will automatically turn the request into an appeal and a hearing date will be set. It is at this point that most employers have an attorney enter their appearance to proceed on their behalf.
The IDES process can be both time consuming and labor intensive. There are many factors to consider when deciding whether to challenge a claim for unemployment. Discussing the situation at the onset with an experienced attorney is always a good place to start.
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Webber & Thies, P.C. is a full-service law firm based in Champaign-Urbana whose attorneys have been serving Central Illinois for more than 70 years.