Unemployment insurance pays benefits to workers who are unemployed through no fault of their own until they are recalled by the employer or until they find jobs for which they are reasonably suited in terms of training, past experience and past wages.
Unemployment insurance is paid only to those claimants who meet the requirements of the law. It is not a handout to individuals who have not worked or are unwilling to do so.
To understand the benefit provisions of the law, the employer must become familiar with some of the terms. These include:
Base Period: The first four of the last five completed calendar quarters immediately preceding the first day of a claimant's benefit year is known as the base period. Benefit entitlement is determined according to the claimant's insured wages during that period.
Benefit Year: The benefit year is a one-year period (52 consecutive weeks) commencing on the Sunday immediately preceding the day in which a valid claim is filed. During the benefit year, a claimant may not receive more than the total benefit amount established when the claim was filed while on regular unemployment (exclusive of any available extended benefits).
Total Benefit Amount: The total amount of UI benefits a claimant is eligible to receive during a benefit year. Divide the total benefit amount by the weekly benefit amount to calculate the number of weeks of UI benefits available.
Average Kansas Rate: The seasonally adjusted, three month average unemployment rate in Kansas at the time a claim is effective.
- Unemployment rate less than 4.5 percent – up to 16 weeks available
- Unemployment rate at least 4.5 percent but less than 6 percent – up to 20 weeks available
- Unemployment rate 6 percent or higher – up to 26 weeks available
Effect on Benefits When a Claimant Works: A claimant may earn up to 25 percent of their determined weekly benefit amount before a deduction is made for earnings from employment.
Extended Benefits: During periods of high unemployment, additional weeks of unemployment benefits may be paid to the claimant. These benefits are established by the U.S. Congress. Additional benefits, such as Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC) benefits or Trade Readjustment Allowances (TRA) are federally funded programs and are not charged against Kansas employers.
Waiting Week Period: Each individual who files a new valid claim for benefits serves a one-week waiting period. The waiting week period will be waived if the individual is laid off due to lack of work because the employer terminated business operations in Kansas, declared bankruptcy or the employer initiated a Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) notice. Under any of these conditions, the waiting week will be paid when it is claimed.
Weekly Benefit Amount (WBA): The claimant's weekly benefit amount is computed by multiplying 4.25 percent of the highest paid quarter in the base period. The weekly benefit amount may not exceed what the Secretary of Labor establishes as the maximum weekly benefit amount by computing 60 percent of the average weekly wages paid to employees in insured work during the previous calendar year. The minimum weekly benefit payable amount to any individual is 25 percent of the maximum weekly benefit amount, which also is established by the Secretary of Labor.
Computation of Benefits Amount
A formula is used to calculate the amount of benefits based upon wages paid to former employees during a prescribed base period, typically the first four of the last five completed quarters they were employed. This is known as the standard or traditional base period (see below).
A person injured in an on-the-job accident and receiving Workers Compensation may qualify for the Worker's Compensation Alternate Base Period. The claimant must have filed for benefits within four weeks of being released to return to work by a licensed and practicing health care provider; must have filed for benefits within 24 months of the date the qualifying injury occurred and must have attempted to return to work with the employer, but regular work or comparable and suitable work was not available.
A person injured in an on-the-job accident and receiving Workers Compensation may qualify for the Worker's Compensation Alternative Base Period. The claimant must have filed for benefits within four weeks of being released to return to work by a licensed and practicing health care provider; must have filed for benefits within 24 months of the date the qualifying injury occurred and must have attempted to return to work with the employer, but regular work or comparable and suitable work was not available.
Qualifying for Unemployment Insurance
An unemployed individual is eligible to receive unemployment insurance benefits if they meet the following requirements:
Exceptions to Qualifying for Benefits:
- The individual has made a claim for benefits
- The individual has registered for work
- The individual is able to work, available for work and is actively seeking work
- The individual has been unemployed and has claimed a waiting period of one week which occurs within the benefit year, unless this requirement is waived
- The individual has received wages from insured employment in two or more quarters of the base period, and has total base period wages equaling at least 30 times their calculated weekly benefit amount
- The individual's employment was for services not specifically excluded by the Employment Security Act
- The individual is not disqualified in accordance with provisions of the law
A self-employed individual is not eligible for unemployment insurance benefits.
A corporate officer is normally not eligible. A corporate officer is not considered unemployed when the corporation is still active. An example is: A small corporation in the construction business does not have contracts during the winter months; however, the corporate officers are still considered employed because they are actively seeking new contacts and performing other services for the corporation.
corporate officer may be eligible if the business is totally discontinued or sold to another party and the services of that individual are no longer required.
Filing a Claim
The provided information is used to develop a monetary determination, which is mailed to the individual claimant. The monetary determination contains information about previous wages and employment in the base period and whether these wages are sufficient to establish an entitlement for benefits.
An individual who wishes to file a claim for unemployment insurance benefits must assemble all wage and separation information and file the claim on the Internet at www.GetKansasBenefits.gov or by phone to the unemployment contact center (see page 36 for phone numbers).
Note: All new initial claims for unemployment benefits will have an identity verification conducted with the Social Security Administration
Additional information about filing an employment claim is available in the Frequently Asked Questions at www.GetKansasBenefits.gov.
When an individual files a claim for unemployment insurance benefits, that individual's last employer and all other base period employers related to the claim are mailed an Employer Notice form K-BEN 44/45 or a Reimbursing Employer Noticeform K-BEN 46. This notice contains the claimant's name, Social Security number and the potential benefit charge to the employer's account.
If a worker is separated for reasons other than lack of work, the employer has an opportunity to provide information concerning the separation that will be used to determine the individual's eligibility for benefits. The form needs to be signed and returned within 10 days from the mailing date to the unemployment insurance office address printed on the form.
Employer Protest to the Benefit Charge
Base period employers have the right to request reconsideration of the charges to a claim. The Kansas Employment Security Law provides that benefits are not charged to the account of a contributing or rated governmental employer if it is found the claimant was separated under any of the following conditions:
An employer having a valid reason to protest the claim must complete the reverse side of the Employer Notice (K-BEN 44/45) or Reimbursing Employer Notice (K-BEN 46) and return it within 10 days to the department. The employer must provide factual and specific reasons for the claimant's separation and furnish other facts and documentation, such as company policies, which may be significant in the determination of the claim.
- Discharged for misconduct connected with the work.
- Discharged for gross misconduct connected with the work.
- Left work voluntarily without good cause attributable to the work or the employer.
- Was and still is a part-time employee.
A Reconsidered Base Period Employer Determination (K-BEN 452) is issued after all the facts have been considered and a determination is made. This determination informs the employer of a reconsidered charge or noncharge. Once determined, the charge or noncharge remains in effect the entire benefit year unless changed as a result of the appeal process (see Disputing a Claim). A base period notice will not be mailed to a contributing or rated governmental employer if the potential charge is $100 or less (reimbursing employers are not eligible for noncharges).
Disqualification for Unemployment Insurance Benefits
Although a claimant meets all other requirements, the claimant may be disqualified from receiving unemployment insurance benefits under certain provisions of the law. Disqualifications are explained as follows:
- A claimant is disqualified beginning the day after the separation until re-employed and has had insured earnings of at least three times the determined weekly benefit amount if the claimant:
- Voluntarily left work without good cause attributable to the work or the employer.
- Under K.S.A. 44-706 (a) there are 12 specific exceptions whereby benefits may be payable.
- Was discharged for misconduct connected with the work. There are specific circumstances that are not disqualifying.
- Failed, without good cause, to apply for or to accept suitable work when offered by the employment office or an employer.
- Failed, after a temporary job assignment, to affirmatively request an additional assignment on the next succeeding workday, if required by the employment agreement, after completion of a given work assignment.
Additional information is available from a Unemployment Contact Center claim representative or online.
- A claimant discharged for gross misconduct connected with the work is disqualified until re-employed and has insured earnings of at least eight times the determined weekly benefit amount. In addition, all wage credits attributable to the employment from which the individual was discharged for gross misconduct are canceled.
- A five-year disqualification for the claimant is applied for making false statements or for withholding information to obtain more benefits than due.
- Benefits are denied for each week in which the claimant is:
- Unemployed because of a labor dispute in which the individual is an interested party, participating or financing
- Claiming or receiving benefits under another state or federal law
- Receiving compensation for temporary total or permanent total disability under the worker's compensation law of a state or the United States
- Not able to perform the duties of the individual's customary occupation or the duties of other occupations for which the individual is reasonably fitted by training or experience
- Not pursuing a full course of action most reasonably calculated to result in re-employment
- Considered to be in need of re-employment services but fails to participate or to show justifiable cause for not participating
- Other disqualifications:
- Employees of educational institutions are disqualified from benefits between terms or academic years if they had a contract or reasonable assurance for their work in a recently completed academic year or term, and have a contract or reasonable assurance of employment in the same or similar position for the next academic year or term.
- A school bus or other motor vehicle driver employed by a private contractor to transport pupils, students and school personnel to or from school-related functions or activities for an educational institution are disqualified between academic years or terms if the individual has a contract or assurance of employment for the next academic year. (Services as a bus or other motor vehicle driver for a private contractor to transport persons to or from nonschool-related functions or activities are not disqualified.)
- Employees of governmental entities and nonprofit organizations described in Section 501(c)(3) of the Federal Internal Revenue Code of 1986 that provide any services to or on behalf of an educational institution are disqualified for benefits between academic years or terms if the individual has a contract or assurance of employment for the next academic year or term.
- An individual is disqualified when registered at and attending an established school, training facility or any other educational institution, or is on vacation during or between two successive academic years or terms unless engaged in fulltime employment concurrent while attending school or is attending approved training. There are certain hours of attendance that are not disqualifying. A claims representative can provide further information.
- Benefits based on wage credits earned as a professional athlete are not available between seasons to individuals who have been employed in the past sports season as a professional athlete and have a reasonable assurance of being again employed as a professional athlete in the following sports season.
- Wages earned by aliens while working illegally in the United States are not available to establish unemployment insurance benefits.
- The weekly benefit amount is reduced if the claimant is receiving a governmental or other pension, retirement or retired pay, annuity or other similar periodic payment under a plan maintained by a base period employer.
- Back pay is considered as wages and is allocated to the week(s) and reported as specified in the order or agreement. If not specified, then the back pay is allocated and reported to the week(s) that wages would have been paid.
- Certain remuneration is considered wages to be reported by the claimant that is deductible from the claimant's weekly benefit amount. Remuneration considered as wages includes: vacation pay, holiday pay and severance pay.
Determining Suitable Work
Certain basic criteria are considered when determining whether or not work is suitable for an individual. Some of these are:
- The degree of risk involved to the individual's health, safety and morals
- The individual's experience and prior earnings
- The length of the individual's unemployment
- Prospects for obtaining local work in the individual's customary occupation
- The distance of available work from the individual's residence
Employers doing employee layoffs - permanent or temporary - can file the initial claim for unemployment benefits for those employees. See the information online for instructions on making this report.
Shared Work Unemployment Insurance Program
An employer/business owner may use Shared Work in lieu of a temporary or total layoff of employees. It allows for a partial workweek and partial unemployment benefits for employees. It is not available for seasonal layoffs. An employer who wishes to participate is required to submit a written plan for approval.
A shared work plan is in lieu of temporary, total layoff that impacts at least 10 percent of the employees in an affected unit. The employer must have two or more employees to participate. A shared work plan reduces the normal weekly hours of work for an employee in the affected unit by not less than 20 percent and not more than 40 percent.
To be eligible, an employer must have filed all reports required to be filed under the Employment Security Law for all past and current periods and must have paid all contributions, benefit cost payments or, if a reimbursing employer, has made all payments in lieu of contributions due for all past and current periods. A contributing or rated governmental employer must be eligible for a rate computation and a contributing employer cannot have a negative account balance in their experience rating account.
Additional information on the Shared Work Program is found online or by calling (785) 291-6132.
Notice: Under 20 CFR 603.11, you are advised that confidential claimant unemployment compensation information and employer wage information may be requested and utilized for other governmental purposes, including, but not limited to, verification of eligibility under other government programs.