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Unemployment Compensation (UC) is a form of income support against job loss. It provides an income to individuals who become unemployed through no fault of their own. UC benefits are paid, for a limited time, to individuals who are able and available for suitable work, but continue to be unemployed while looking for another job. To be covered by the UC program, a worker must have performed services covered by the Pennsylvania UC Law (Law), and must have worked for an employer who is required by Law or elects to pay into the UC Fund.
The Employer Quick Guide is an easy-to-use reference sheet that provides a high-level overview and contact information for the services our UC Service Center and UC Tax teams provide employers.
The Unemployment Compensation Management System, or UCMS, is the Tax portion of the Unemployment Compensation (UC) program. It provides self-access for UC staff, employers, and Third-Party Administrators (TPAs). Enterprises are required to use UCMS to electronically report employee tax and wage information.
The UC Law requires covered employers to make contributions into a pooled reserve known as the UC Trust Fund. These contributions are used to pay benefits to jobless individuals who meet the claimant eligibility requirements of the Law. Employers are required to report covered wages paid and remit contributions due on a quarterly basis. In certain calendar years, employers are also required to withhold a portion of an employee's gross wages and include this amount on the quarterly UC reports. All covered employers providing full and/or part time covered employment to one or more workers must be registered with the Department of Labor and Industry's Office of UC Tax Services (UCTS).
All employers, whether or not liable for the payment of contributions, must maintain the following records so they can be made available for review by the Department when necessary: employment and payroll records, cash books, journals, ledgers, and corporate minutes. These records must be retained for at least four years after contributions relating to such records have been paid. (Daily attendance records need not be retained for more than two years.) These records must be maintained at the place of employment or at a central location and must be available for inspection or audit by Department personnel.
An enterprise may file a paper PA-100, Pennsylvania Enterprise Registration Form to register for a UC account number, however the easiest and fastest way to register is online.
Enterprises registering electronically can access the online PA-100 portal.
A Notice of Pennsylvania Unemployment Compensation Responsibilities (Form UC-851) is mailed to an employer when the registration information has been processed. It provides the UC account number assigned, as well as other important UC tax information. A copy of the UC-851 is also placed in the employer’s Correspondence portal in UCMS.
A Contribution Rate Notice (Form UC-657) is mailed to employers at the end of each calendar year and shows the rate effective for the coming calendar year. This percentage is to be applied to taxable wages paid (refer to the taxable wage base chart) to determine the amount of employer contributions due. A copy of the UC-657 is also placed in the employer’s Correspondence portal in UCMS.
Employers electronically report their quarterly wages and contributions due via UCMS.
Employers who are unable to comply with the electronic filing requirement may request a temporary waiver which allows you to submit your quarterly wage and tax reports via paper. Employers without a department approved waiver whose reports are not filed electronically will be charged a penalty equal to 15 percent of the contribution amount, with a minimum of $125 and a maximum of $450.
Employers who are unable to comply with the electronic payment requirement may complete a waiver request form stating the reason for non-compliance and the anticipated date electronic payment will begin. The request must be returned to the address on the form. The department will review each request and issue a determination. Failure to comply can result in a penalty of 10% of the payment, up to a maximum of $500 with a minimum of $25 per occurrence.
Information about electronic filing can be obtained from the UC Management System page. You may call the Employer Contact Center at 866-403-6163, weekdays from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Eastern Standard Time. You may also email us at UCemail@example.com.
Gross wages are the total amount of wages paid to an employee. This includes salaries, wages, commission, bonuses, overtime pay, incentive awards and tips; basically, all remuneration defined as wages in the PA UC Law.
Taxable wages are the portion of gross wages that is subject to the taxable wage limit determined for each year. (Refer to the taxable wage base chart.)
Both gross and taxable wages must be reported each quarter.
Employers are required to withhold a portion of an employee's gross wages at the time the wages are paid. The amount of tax to be withheld is determined by multiplying the employee's gross wages for the payroll period by an annually determined employee contribution rate. The taxable wage base does not apply to employee contributions.
An agricultural enterprise must report wages paid to employees if the enterprise:
employs at least 10 full-time or part-time employees for any part of a day in 20 or more calendar weeks in the current or preceding year, or
pays $20,000 in cash wages in any calendar quarter of the current or preceding calendar year.
Individual homeowners, local college clubs, fraternities or sororities paying a domestic employee $1000 or more in cash wages in any quarter in the current or preceding calendar year must report those wages.
Wages of an individual employed by his son, daughter or spouse are not covered wages for UC purposes. Wages of a child under the age of 18 working for a parent are not reportable for UC purposes. "Family" also includes stepchildren and their parents, foster children and their parents and adopted children and their parents.
UCMS has a rate calculation tool that enterprises can use to estimate and project different business decisions that could impact their UC contribution rate.
Enterprises can retrieve rates from previous years by logging in to the Contribution Rates portal in UCMS. Copies of rate notices generated by UCMS will be available in the Correspondence portal. Rate notices that were issued prior to UCMS will be available from microfiche as they are today.
There is a payment plan summary screen in UCMS for both the employer and UC staff. This screen includes the installment number, installment due dates, installment amount, payments made and a payment date. Enterprises can view their payment plan status and make payments through this screen at any time.
It is the employers' responsibility to notify us of any changes to their bank account information. If they do not notify us and a fee is charged, the employer will be responsible for that fee. Employers can request refunds by check as well, although it is preferred that refunds be issued through direct deposit.
Enterprises that have already been assigned an account number, can request the following types of clearance certificates by logging in to the Certifications portal in UCMS.
Sales, Use, and Hotel Occupancy License, and
Small Games of Chance License
For all other types of clearances, enterprises may contact the Office of UC Tax Services e-Government Unit at 866-403-6163, option 2.
The Application for Tax Clearance Certificate Form is used by both the Department of Labor & Industry (L&I) and the Department of Revenue (DOR).
Instructions are located at the bottom of page 3 and indicate that the applicant should send the original form to DOR and a copy to L&I.
Enterprises can log into the Employer Profile portal in UCMS to change an address.
Form UC-1609, Employer Information, is designed to provide employees with accurate employer information to use when filing an application for UC benefits. Completing this form and providing it to employees at the time of layoff ensures that the employer information provided to us is significantly more accurate, which assists the UC Service Center in processing the claim for UC benefits.
A Spanish Employer Information Form is also available.
Where a claimant works less than his full-time hours through no fault of his own, the claimant may be potentially eligible to receive full or partial benefits, depending on his gross earnings and Partial Benefit Credit (PBC). A claimant's PBC is the amount equal to 30 percent of his Weekly Benefit Rate (WBR). Where a claimant is working less than his full-time hours and his gross earnings for a week are equal to or less than the PBC, the claimant's full WBR is payable for the week. When the claimant's gross earnings for a week exceed the PBC, the gross earnings are deducted from the sum of the WBR plus PBC to determine the amount of any partial benefits for which the claimant may be eligible. NOTE: If the claimant's gross earnings for a week are not a whole dollar amount, the earnings are rounded up to the next dollar.
If the claimant's gross earnings for a week are equal to or greater than the sum of his WBR plus PBC, no benefits are payable for the week even though the claimant may have worked less than his hours. A claimant working his hours is not eligible for UC, regardless of the amount of earnings for the week.
The following examples illustrate how the amount of any partial benefits payable to a claimant who worked less than his full time, is calculated. In each example, the claimant was determined financially eligible for a WBR of $100. The PBC for each example is therefore $30 (30 percent of $100).
Example 1: The claimant's earnings for the week are $29. As $29 is less than the PBC, the claimant is eligible for the full WBR ($100) for the week.
Example 2: The claimant's earnings for the week are $30. As $30 is equal to the PBC, the claimant is eligible for the full WBR ($100) for the week.
Example 3: The claimant's earnings for the week are $31. As $31 exceeds the PBC by $1, the claimant is eligible for partial benefits of $99 ($130 - $31 = $99).
Example 4: The claimant's earnings for the week are $31.01. The $31.01 is rounded up to $32.00. As $32 exceeds the PBC by $2, the claimant is eligible for partial benefits of $98 ($130 - $32 = $98).
Example 5: The claimant's earnings for the week are $132. As the claimant's weekly earnings exceed the combined rate sum of the WBR and PBC, the claimant is ineligible for UC benefits for that week.
When employment has discontinued, but is expected in the future, the enterprise may continue to file the quarterly UC reports, indicating that no wages are being paid. This will cause the UC account to remain active, and the enterprise will continue to receive all mailings. When employment commences, the enterprise will again file quarterly UC reports showing that wages are being paid.
NOTE: If no wages are paid for four consecutive quarters, the department will automatically remove the enterprise from the active employer files.
Enterprises can log into the Employer Profile portal in UCMS to close their business for UC purposes.
If you have a User ID and password, you can access your account, on the Employer Profile page you will have an option to Close your account, otherwise submit an email to UC-News@pa.gov providing the date of the last payroll.
Section 402(a) of Pennsylvania Unemployment Compensation Law provides, in part, that an employee shall be ineligible for compensation for any week in which their unemployment is due to failure, without good cause, to accept suitable work; provided that the employer who offers the work notifies the department of the refusal within seven days from when the offer is made.
L&I has created the Employer Questionnaire Refusal of Suitable Work Form (UC-1921W), so employers can notify the department that suitable work was refused. The form can be saved, printed, and submitted directly to the department online. Be an active partner in helping to improve the integrity of unemployment compensation payments. Notify the department within seven days of the offer by submitting the form online. If you prefer to send the form via facsimile, please complete, print, and fax the form with any additional documentation to UIAS at 717-772-0378.
Duplicate employer UC forms and/or wage information are available upon request from the department. General UC forms and pamphlets may be obtained from our Resources page.
Employers may obtain Form UC-2A, Employer's Quarterly Report of Wages Paid to Each Employee, or Form UC-640, Monthly Notice of Compensation Charged. To obtain copies of your Form UC-2A or UC-640, please contact the Disclosure Officer at 717-783-3733 for instructions.
All requests must be sent to the following address, and must include a check or money order made out to the Commonwealth of PA:Disclosure Officer, Office of UC Benefits PolicyDepartment of Labor & IndustryEmployer Information Center651 Boas Street, Room 525
Harrisburg, PA 17121
The department is required by federal law and regulations to secure reimbursement for the costs of providing the information. In order to process your request, the department must receive a check or money order in the amount indicated on our cost schedule payable to the Commonwealth of PA.
Section 206.1 requires employers to provide notification of the availability of unemployment compensation (UC) to employees at the time of separation from employment. The Department has created, Employer Information, UC-1609, for employers to use to satisfy the notification requirement in Section 206.1. You must complete this notice and provide it to each employee at the time of separation, or when hours are reduced.
What you must know about Section 206.1 and the Employer Information form, UC-1609:
You must provide it to each employee when they separate or have reduced hours.
You must deliver it individually to the employee.
You may choose the method of delivery, including in-person, regular mail, email, or text message.
If a closing or separation is unexpected, you are still required to satisfy the notification requirement of Section 206.1.
Mandatory postings about UC do not meet this requirement
This form is not just mandatory to inform employees about UC, but is intended to provide accurate information for use when UC claims are filed. If wrong information is given on a claim, it can create delays that can lead to incorrect determinations, which could increase your tax rate. This form can help your company save money by reducing inaccurate claims, and subsequently, inaccurate charges to your account -- charges that would require extra time and energy on your part to remove.
When an employee voluntarily quits work, the employee is typically ineligible for benefits. However, if the employee can meet the burden of showing that he or she has a "necessitous and compelling reason" to quit, benefits may be granted pursuant to Section 402(b) of the UC Law.
Likewise, Section 402(e) of the UC Law deems a claimant ineligible for benefits where the claimant has been found to have been discharged from employment for "willful misconduct connected with his work." The employer must prove willful misconduct has occurred, must show the existence of the work rule/policy, and must show that the employee knowingly violated the policy (BK Foods, Inc. v. UCBR). If the employer proves willful misconduct, then the burden shifts to the claimant to show that there was good cause for the misconduct. Additionally, the employer's rule/policy must be reasonable in light of all of the circumstances.
In the context of COVID-19 vaccine mandates that are being implemented in the workplace, employers must consider reasonable accommodations for an employee who, because of a disability or sincerely held religious belief, did not or cannot get vaccinated for COVID-19.
It is possible that the employer's policy would allow an employee to refuse to obtain a COVID-19 vaccine, and the employer would provide accommodations for that refusal such as alternatives such as masking, regular COVID-19 testing, working at a social distance from others, working a modified schedule, being given the opportunity to telework, or reassigning the employee to a different position.
A claimant may be ineligible for UC benefits if they intentionally refuse to comply with an employer's policies, either mandating vaccination or allowing for acceptable alternatives to vaccination.
Ultimately, UC eligibility is determined on a case-by-case basis. Employers and claimants alike must be afforded the right to be heard during a fact-finding process. Each claimant's circumstance is fact-specific and there is no "one-size-fits-all" answer to these grayer areas absent fact-finding with both the claimant and employer. This has been the case for other vaccine mandates, drug testing, or other types of health testing required by an employer as a condition of employment.
For more information, employers may call the Employer Contact Center at 866-403-6163, weekdays from 8 a.m. until 4:30 p.m.
Enterprises may also email the Department at: firstname.lastname@example.org.