Wisconsin law allows for employment at will. This means that in general, employees without a contract specifying otherwise can end employment at any time. The same holds true for employers. In Wisconsin, an employer may terminate employment for any reason as long as the termination does not break the law. When an employee is laid off or fired, they may be entitled to collect unemployment benefits through the state. As an employer, it is essential to understand how unemployment works in Wisconsin.
What is the Wisconsin Unemployment Program?
The Wisconsin unemployment program is in place statewide to provide qualified claimants with monetary benefits. The program is administered through the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development (DWD), a government agency. Employers pay into the program through unemployment taxes. An unemployed person may file a claim for benefits if they meet the criteria. Employees may collect unemployment benefits for a period of time in order to allow them to find another job. Benefits get paid from the state directly to claimants.
Who Pays Unemployment Claims in Wisconsin?
Unemployment payments are made directly to claimants through the DWD, however, the money for benefits comes from employers. Employers are typically required to pay unemployment taxes for their qualified full time employees. The employer must make the appropriate payments and if they fail to pay or fall behind on payments, they could owe money to the state. Employers do not pay employees directly for their unemployment compensation. However, employers may provide separate benefits to their employees, such as severance pay or other payments based on their particular agreements and policies, which may preempt or delay an employee’s eligibility for unemployment benefits.
Do All Wisconsin Employers Have to Pay Unemployment Tax?
The law in Wisconsin requires only those employers with eligible employees to pay the appropriate unemployment tax. Employers must pay unemployment tax when they have an employee, either full or part time, who works more than 20 weeks in a year, or when an employee was paid wages of more than $1500 in a quarter, based on the calendar year. Wages include salary, tips, bonuses and other payments. The taxable wage base is $14,000. This means the employer must pay unemployment taxes on the employee’s first $14,000 of wages. Some types of industries have different requirements, so it is best to seek guidance to ensure that you are paying the proper taxes.
Who Qualifies for Unemployment Benefits?
Not all former employees qualify for unemployment benefits. Those who qualify must submit an application and provide information for review. An employee may be eligible if the employee did not voluntarily terminate work, or if the employee was not terminated for misconduct or due to substantial fault. The DWD computes the amount of compensation they should receive based on their wages. Employees must be able and available to work and must actively seek employment in order to continue to receive benefits. Employers review unemployment claims to verify that they are correct before the DWD will approve payments.
Unemployment insurance is a part of most every business in Wisconsin. If you fail to pay the proper taxes you may have to pay a hefty fine. It is best to make sure that you are in full compliance with the current laws and regulations regarding Wisconsin unemployment insurance. To learn more, contact us at (608) 784-8310 or online.