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On March 11, 2021, the President signed the American Rescue Plan Act into law. This Act amends certain provisions of the Continued Assistance for Unemployed Workers Act of 2020, and extends the previous expiration date of March 14, 2021, to September 6, 2021.
The applicable period for emergency unemployment relief for governmental entities and nonprofit organizations is extended to weeks of unemployment ending on or before September 6, 2021.
Additionally, the amount of emergency relief for weeks of unemployment beginning after March 31, 2021, increased from 50% of the compensation paid to 75%.
All contributory PA employers and reimbursable employers who paid the solvency fee received automatic relief from charges through December 31, 2020, from Act 9 of 2020 for their COVID-19 related charges. The majority of the credits were processed in November 2020 and continue to be processed into early 2021 as claims continue to be retroactively paid.
Reimbursable employers are also eligible for federal relief from their total charges. The federal CARES Act provided 50% reimbursement for charges through December 31, 2020. This process was changed in August 2020 to a 50% upfront reduction through the Protecting Nonprofits from Catastrophic Cash Flow Strain Act. The Continued Assistance Act extended the 50% reduction through March 13, 2021. The American Rescue Plan Act increased the percentage from 50% to 75% and this reduction is extended to September 6, 2021.
We often hear that employers have trouble reaching us. We want to be sure you are using the correct contact information and not the toll-free phone number intended for claimants' use. Using the phone numbers designated for employers' unemployment questions means you should not experience difficulty in reaching us. This Employer Quick Guide shows the four different contact numbers (and email addresses) that employers should use to ask questions and provide information to the department.
The majority of questions employers have about how unemployment programs work in Pennsylvania can be answered by the wealth of up-to-date information that is available throughout our website, www.uc.pa.gov. We encourage you to become familiar with the content or use the "Search" feature to find what you need. Employers most often find the Employer & UC Tax pages to be useful, as well as the additional sections for benefits, appeals, and contact information.
Fraudulent claims filed via identity theft are on the rise nationally in an unprecedented way. Here are some warning signs that a fraudulent unemployment claim was filed involving you or your company:
You receive paperwork/notice for an employee who never worked for you. We hear employers say: "I don't know why this person would have entered me as their employer. I never heard of this person." The answer is: because it probably wasn't a person. It was probably a robot filing multiple claims at a time and choosing random Pennsylvania employers. Mark "Never worked here" on the form and send it back to us per the enclosed instructions.
You receive paperwork/notice for an employee who is fully employed by you. Talk to the employee to ask if he/she opened a claim. Most times, they have no idea this is happening and are unaware that their identity is being used by a fraudster. If they did not file the unemployment claim, instruct the employee to report the fraud to us using the Report Fraud link on our website.
You receive paperwork for yourself. Your identity was stolen and you should report the fraud to us using the Report Fraud link on our website.
If you do receive paperwork, it does not necessarily mean that payments have or will be made on that claim. Regardless, it is important for you to report it to us as soon as possible.
For Pennsylvania unemployment compensation (UC) tax purposes, a limited liability company (LLC) may be an employing entity like any other form of business entity. An LLC must pay UC contributions on wages paid to its employees. For more information, visit the UC Taxation of Limited Liability Companies webpage.
Remember that benefit eligibility and relief from charges are not the same concepts.
This refers to whether the claimant is actually eligible to receive benefits or not. If you feel a person should not be eligible for unemployment benefits based on their situation, you should respond to the Notice of Claim Filed (SIDES response or a paper UC-45) to give us that potentially disqualifying information. Quick responses are important because it is better for everyone to prevent benefits from being paid than to pay some to the claimant and later determine they have been overpaid. Also, Pennsylvania UC law provides an employer penalty for not providing timely information, which later results in an overpayment.
If there is no eligibility issue, there is no need to respond to these forms. In fact, it will save department staff time by not having to review your response if there are no issues.
Relief from Charges
This refers to whether or not you will be charged your portion of benefits if the claimant does receive benefits, now or in the future. You receive the form UC-44FR for the purpose of requesting to not be charged for that person because their unemployment is not your fault. Pennsylvania regulations are very specific about which situations qualify for relief. You may be charged for benefits in the year following the claimant's separation from your employment, or you could be charged in the future if you are still a base year employer. You can see how a “base year” works by reviewing the infographic on the UC Benefit Information webpage.
Please remember that only contributory employers (or reimbursable employers who paid the solvency fee) can request relief from charges. For more information, please visit Relief From Charges webpage.
If you have individuals refusing suitable work and claiming unemployment benefits, you must report that on either the paperwork we send to you, or on our UC-1921W Online Form created for this purpose.
Please keep in mind that we are experiencing historically high volumes of work and requests. If you report an eligibility issue to us, you may not receive an outcome for a period of time. It does not mean we did not receive your request or that we will not work on it as soon as we can, so please do not send second or third requests. Duplicate requests only tie up resources more and prevent us from better serving you and other employers.
For more information on situations where claimants may refuse work and still be granted benefits, visit the UC COVID-19 FAQs.
In March 2020, Pennsylvania passed legislation requiring employers to give certain information to claimants who are separating from their employment for any reason. The purpose is to cut down on the wasted time and resources due to claimants who do not enter correct employer information when they open an unemployment claim. These errors tend to happen when employers use a third-party administrator, or they are doing business as a certain name and location but it is not the parent company name or headquarters.
Complete the Employer Information Form and provide it to your separating employees. A Spanish Employer Information Form is also available.
Another tip for the smooth resolution of unemployment claims: if you are initiating the separation, be clear to the employee why they are being separated. It creates problems when a claimant gives a different reason for separation than the one you provide to us.
COVID-19 relief from charges was part of Act 9 of 2020 and expired at the end of the year. This means that benefits paid for claim weeks in 2021 will be charged to your account unless you are granted relief.
You do not need the actual Request for Relief from Charges form (UC-44FR) to request relief from the department. You can request relief by emailing the following information to email@example.com:
Claimant’s full name and last 4 digits of their Social Security Number;
Employer’s name and PA UC account number;
Last day the claimant worked;
Detailed, but brief separation information or reason you are requesting the relief from charges;
Name and contact information of the person completing the form; and
Signature of the employer or authorized representative.
Please remember that reimbursable employers who did not pay the solvency fee for the year cannot request relief from charges. These employers are instead currently receiving a form of federal relief by only being charged for a percentage of benefits paid in 2021.
As part of the Act 60 amendments to the Pennsylvania UC Law, the taxable wage base for employer contributions increased each year from 2012 through 2018. At the same time, the maximum state adjustment factor decreased to 1.0% for 2013-2016 and was further reduced for 2017 and 2018 and thereafter. The following chart lists the taxable wage base and state adjustment factor amounts beginning 2012:
|Calendar Year||Taxable Wage Base for Employer Contributions (per employee per year)||Maximum State Adjustment Factor|
|2012 and prior||$8,000||1.5%|
|2018 and thereafter||$10,000||0.75%|
The following solvency measures are in effect for 2021:
A 5.4 percent (.054) Surcharge on employer contributions. The surcharge adjustment is computed by multiplying your basic rate by the 5.4 percent surcharge. The result is added to the basic rate. The surcharge adjustment does not apply to reimbursable employers.
A 0.50 percent (.0050) Additional Contributions. The additional contributions are added to your basic tax rate. The additional contributions do not apply to non-delinquent newly liable and reimbursable employers.
Under Act 60 of 2012, the interest factor is used to fund the payment of bond obligations and interest on federal loans. It is added to the basic rate. The interest factor does not apply to non-delinquent newly liable employers and reimbursable employers. Also, it is neither credited to the employer's reserve account nor considered for federal certifications. The Interest Factor for 2021 is 0.00% effective January 1st, 2021.
A 0.06 percent (.0006) tax on employee gross wages, or 60 cents on each $1,000 paid. Employee withholding contributions are submitted with each quarterly report. Employee withholding applies to the total wages paid in 2021. It is not limited to the $10,000 taxable wage base for employer contributions. Failure to withhold or remit this employee tax could result in interest charges and may affect your contribution rate for subsequent years.
A 2.4 percent (.024) Benefit Reduction. With few exceptions, the weekly UC benefit amount for all claimants will be reduced by 2.4 percent.