Unemployment compensation law




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Compiler's Note: The Department of Public Welfare, referred to in this section, was redesignated as the Department of Human Services by Act 132 of 2014.

Compiler's Note: Section 6(1) of Act 75 of 2013, which added subsec. (l)(4)(21), provided that subsec. (l)(4)(21) shall apply to services performed on or after the effective date of section 6. Section 7 of Act 75 provided that section 6 shall take effect immediately.

Compiler's Note: Section 18(7)(i) of Act 60 of 2012, which amended subsecs. (f), (m.3), (w) and (x), provided that the amendment of subsecs. (m.3) and (w) shall apply to benefit years which begin after December 31, 2012.

Compiler's Note: Section 9(6) of Act 6 of 2011, which amended subsec. (g.1), provided that the amendment shall apply to benefit years that begin on or after January 1, 2013.

Section 5.  Constitutional Construction.--The provisions of this act are severable, and if any provisions hereof are held unconstitutional, such decision shall not be construed to impair any other provision of this act. It is hereby declared as the legislative intent that this act would have been adopted had such unconstitutional provision not been included herein.

 

ARTICLE II



ADMINISTRATION OF ACT

 

Section 201.  General Powers and Duties of Department.--(a)  It shall be the duty of the department to administer and enforce this act through such employment service and public employment offices as have been or may be constituted in accordance with the provisions of this act and existing laws. It shall have power and authority to adopt, amend, and rescind such rules and regulations, require such reports from employers, employes, the board and from any other person deemed by the department to be affected by this act, make such investigations, and take such other action as it deems necessary or suitable. Such rules and regulations shall not be inconsistent with the provisions of this act. The department shall submit to the Governor and the General Assembly a biennial report covering the administration and operation of this act and shall make such recommendations for amendments to this act as it deems proper. The department shall establish procedures to identify the transfer or acquisition of a business in accordance with section 303(k)(1)(E) of the Social Security Act (49 Stat. 620, 42 U.S.C. § 503(k)(1)(E)). In the discharge of the duties imposed by this act, the Secretary and any agent duly authorized in writing by him shall have the power to administer oaths and affirmations, take depositions, and certify to official acts. The department shall have the power to issue subpoenas to compel the attendance of witnesses and the production of books, papers, correspondence, memoranda and other records deemed necessary in the administration of this act. ((a) amended June 15, 2005, P.L.8, No.5)



(b)  The department and the Department of Property and Supplies are hereby authorized to acquire land and buildings or to use land in or in the immediate vicinity of the City of Harrisburg, now owned by the Commonwealth, deemed necessary by the Secretary of Labor and Industry, with the approval of the Governor, and in the case of the use of land now owned by the Commonwealth, the approval of the board or other agency of the Commonwealth having jurisdiction over the same, for the administration of this act.

As all property acquired under the provisions of this subsection shall be used exclusively for the performance of essential governmental functions, no taxes shall be required to be paid or assessments made upon any such property from the time that the Commonwealth actually takes title to such property in the event of outright purchase, or from the time that the Commonwealth takes possession of such property under a lease-purchase agreement as provided herein.

((b) amended May 17, 1957, P.L.153, No.72)

Section 202.  Personnel and Employment Offices.--The secretary shall have power to establish such offices and to appoint and fix the compensation of such employes in such offices and in the department as he may deem necessary to administer this act, subject to the provisions of the act, approved the fifth day of August, one thousand nine hundred and forty-one (Pamphlet Laws, seven hundred fifty-two).

The department is authorized to cooperate with or to enter into agreements with the Railroad Retirement Board or any other agency of the United States charged with the administration of an unemployment compensation law, with any political subdivision of this State, or with any private nonprofit organization, with respect to the establishment, maintenance, and use of free employment service facilities and free public employment offices, and, as a part of any such agreement, may accept moneys, services, or quarters as a contribution to the administration fund.

(202 amended May 29, 1945, P.L.1145, No.408)

Section 203.  Unemployment Compensation Board of Review.--(a) There is hereby created in the department an Unemployment Compensation Board of Review. The board shall consist of three members nominated and appointed by the Governor, by and with the advice and consent of two-thirds of all the members of the Senate, for terms of six years each, and until their successors shall have been appointed and qualified, except that the terms of the members first taking office shall expire on July first, one thousand nine hundred thirty-nine; July first, one thousand nine hundred forty-one; and July first, one thousand nine hundred forty-three, respectively, as designated by the Governor at the time of appointment and until their successors shall have been appointed and qualified. The Governor shall designate one of the members as chairman. Vacancies in said board shall be filled for the unexpired terms. The chairman of the board shall receive a salary at the rate of nine thousand dollars per annum. The other members of the board shall receive salaries at the rate of eight thousand five hundred dollars per annum. Such salaries shall be paid from the Administration Fund. Two members of the board shall be a quorum, and no action of the board shall be valid unless it shall have the concurrence of at least two members. A vacancy on the board shall not impair the right of a quorum to exercise all the rights and perform all the duties of the board.

(b)  The secretary may appoint a secretary to the board to hold office at his pleasure. Such secretary, if appointed, shall have such powers and perform such duties, not contrary to law, as the board shall prescribe, and shall receive such compensation as the secretary, with the approval of the Governor, shall determine. ((b) amended Sept. 27, 1971, P.L.460, No.108)

(c)  The board shall be a departmental administrative board, and shall have all the powers and perform all the duties generally vested in, and imposed upon, departmental administrative boards and commissions by The Administrative Code of one thousand nine hundred twenty-nine and its amendments.

(d)  It shall be the duty of the board to hear appeals arising from claims for compensation, adopt, amend or rescind such rules of procedure, undertake such investigations, and take such action required for the hearing and disposition of appeals as it deems necessary and consistent with this act. Such rules of procedure shall be effective in such manner as the board shall prescribe and shall not be inconsistent with this act. Any investigation, hearing or appeal which the board has power to undertake, hold, hear or determine, may be undertaken, held or heard by or before any one or more of the members of the board, but any determination, ruling or order of a member or members upon any such investigation, hearing or appeal undertaken, held or heard by him or them, shall not become and be effective until approved and confirmed by at least a quorum of the board. The chairman of the board, or his representative, shall have the power as often as he may deem the work of the board requires to designate the time and place for the conducting of investigations, hearings and appeals, and to assign cases to a member or members for such purposes.

(e)  The secretary shall appoint and fix the compensation of such referees as may be deemed necessary with power to take testimony in any appeals coming before the board. Such appointment shall be subject to the provisions of the act, approved the fifth day of August, one thousand nine hundred and forty-one (Pamphlet Laws 752): Provided, That any person who, on the first day of July, one thousand nine hundred fifty-one, was employed as a referee and as of said date shall have completed one or more years of satisfactory service in such position, may make application to the Civil Service Commission, prior to the first day of October, one thousand nine hundred fifty-one, for appointment as a referee under the regular classified service and, notwithstanding any provisions of said act or any other act to the contrary, upon finding by said commission that he or she possesses the minimum qualifications therefor, shall be so appointed. It shall be the duty of a referee, under the supervision, direction and administrative control of the board, to hear and decide disputes in accordance with the provisions of this act and to conduct such other and further hearings in connection with the foregoing as may be required by the board. ((e) amended Sept. 27, 1971, P.L.460, No.108)

(f)  The board shall submit to the department a biennial report concerning the performance of its powers and duties and shall make such recommendations for the improvement of its service and the amendment of this act as it deems proper.

 

Compiler's Note:  Section 2 of Act 11 of 1989 repealed section 203(a) insofar as it is inconsistent with Act 11.

Section 204.  Advisory Council.--(204 repealed July 1, 1985, P.L.96, No.30)

Section 204.1.  State Unemployment Compensation Advisory Council.--(a)  There is hereby created the State Unemployment Compensation Advisory Council to be composed of nineteen members which shall consist of:

(1)  The Secretary of Labor and Industry or his designee.

(2)  The Chairman and Minority Chairman of the Senate Committee on Labor and Industry or their designees.

(3)  The Chairman and Minority Chairman of the House Committee on Labor Relations or their designees.

(4)  Fourteen individuals appointed by the Governor which shall include:

(i)  Four employe representatives who shall be appointed from a list supplied by the Pennsylvania AFL-CIO.

(ii)  Four employer representatives who shall be appointed from a list supplied by the Pennsylvania Chamber of Commerce.

(iii)  Six individuals, of whom no more than three shall represent employers and no more than three shall represent labor organizations.

(b)  Members shall be appointed for two-year terms commencing on February 1 of each odd-numbered year. Initial appointments shall be made within sixty days of final enactment of this act and shall expire on January 30, 1987.

(c)  Members of the council shall receive no compensation but shall be entitled to receive an allowance for expenses incurred in the performance of their duties.

(d)  The Secretary of Labor and Industry shall be the chairman of the council. The council shall meet at least four times each year.

(e)  The council may, upon a majority vote, appoint an executive director and one clerical assistant, and establish their compensation, to aid the council in the performance of its functions. The compensation of such employes and the amount allowed them for traveling and other incidental expenses shall be deemed part of the expenses incurred in connection with the administration of this act.

(f)  The council shall consider and advise the department upon all matters related to the administration of this act, including the formulation of policies assuring impartiality and freedom from political influence in its administration, and making studies relating to unemployment and unemployment compensation payments. Such council may recommend to the Governor and the General Assembly, upon its own initiative, such changes in the provisions of this act, and in the administration thereof, as it deems necessary and shall make periodic reports to the Governor and the General Assembly regarding the findings of its studies and the performance of its duties and functions. The council shall have full access to information relating to the purpose of this act, provided the department shall not be required to provide any information which would specifically identify any employer, employe or claimant.

(g)  The Governor shall have the power to create such local advisory councils as the State Advisory Council may deem necessary for the efficient performance of its functions. Such local advisory councils shall be composed of an equal number of members representing employers, employes and the public and shall be appointed by the Governor.

(h)  The members of local advisory councils shall serve without compensation but shall be entitled to be reimbursed out of the administration fund for all necessary expenses incurred in the discharge of their duties.

(i)  The State Advisory Council upon request shall be given copies of any report made by the department to the United States Department of Labor and shall have access to any other information requested by the council, including, but not limited to:

(1)  Statistics relating to population, labor force and covered labor force.

(2)  Claims data.

(3)  Payment data.

(4)  Minimum, maximum, average weekly benefit amount and minimum earnings requirement.

(5)  Federal-State extended benefits program.

(6)  Number of nonmonetary determinations for unemployment benefits.

(7)  Experience of reimbursable and contributory employers.

(8)  Tax rates by industry, taxable payroll, total payroll and number of employers.

(9)  Disbursements from the Unemployment Compensation Fund.

(10)  Income of the Unemployment Compensation Fund.

(11)  Difference between income and disbursements of the Unemployment Compensation Fund.

(12)  Status of the Unemployment Compensation Fund.

(13)  Experience rating factors of insured employers.

(14)  Net reserve or deficit of active employer accounts.

(15)  Reserve ratio contributions received.

(16)  Benefit ratio contributions received.

At the discretion of the council, this information shall be provided on computer tape if the information is on computer tape. The department shall not be required to provide any information which would specifically identify any employer, employe or claimant.

(j)  The council shall have the authority to authorize the preparation of an annual financial analysis of the Unemployment Compensation Fund and may contract with an independent actuarial firm of certified actuaries and such other consultants as may be necessary to perform such thorough annual financial analysis. The department shall supply the actuaries with all information required to perform this analysis as the actuaries may require, provided the department shall not be required to provide any information which would specifically identify any employer, employe or claimant. This analysis, if authorized, shall be completed by September 1 of each year for the previous calendar year. The analysis report shall be given to the Governor, the secretary, the State Advisory Council and the General Assembly and shall be made available to the public. The analysis shall include, but not be limited to, the following:

(1)  The solvency of the fund.

(2)  The effect upon the fund of:

(i)  changes in State and Federal law;

(ii)  State and Federal court decisions; or

(iii)  the State and national economic situation.

(3)  A three-year projection of the condition of the fund.

(k)  The department shall also prepare and present to the Governor and the General Assembly, on or before the first day of March of each year, an evaluation of the financial operations of the unemployment compensation program, together with its findings and recommendations for developing and improving solvency of the fund and adjusting and regulating income and disbursements in the fields of contributions and benefits. Such report shall include the presentation of the current economic trends, statistics and analyses on which the evaluation is based. This evaluation shall include all of the following:

(1)  Statistics relating to population, labor force and covered labor force.

(2)  Claims data.

(3)  Payment data.

(4)  Minimum, maximum, average weekly benefit amount and minimum earnings requirement.

(5)  Federal-State extended benefits program.

(6)  Number of nonmonetary determinations for unemployment benefits.

(7)  Experience of reimbursable and contributory employers.

(8)  Tax rates by industry, taxable payroll, total payroll and number of employers.

(9)  Disbursements from the unemployment fund.

(10)  Income of the unemployment fund.

(11)  Difference between income and disbursements of the unemployment fund.

(12)  Status of the unemployment fund.

(13)  Experience rating factors of insured employers.

(14)  Net reserve or deficit of active employer accounts.

(15)  Reserve ratio contributions received.

(16)  Benefit ratio contributions received.

(204.1 added July 1, 1985, P.L.96, No.30)

Section 205.  Stabilization of Employment; Partial and Seasonal Unemployments.--The department shall take appropriate steps to--(a) reduce and prevent unemployment, (b) encourage and assist in the adoption of practical methods of vocational training and guidance, (c) investigate, recommend, advise and assist in the establishment, by political subdivisions, of reserves for public works to be used in times of business depression and unemployment, and (d) promote the reemployment of unemployed workers.

(205 amended May 23, 1949, P.L.1738, No.530)

Section 206.  Records of and Reports by Employers.--(a)  Each employer (whether or not liable for the payment of contributions under this act) shall keep accurate employment records containing such information, as may be prescribed by the rules and regulations adopted by the department. Such records shall be open to inspection by the department and its agents at any reasonable time, and as often as may be deemed necessary, but employers need not retain such records more than four (4) years after contributions relating to such records have been paid. The department may require from such employers such reports as it deems necessary, which shall be sworn to, if required by the department.

(b)  Information thus obtained shall not be made public or be open to public inspection, other than to the members of the board, the officers and employes of the department and other public employes in the performance of their public duties, but any employe or employer at a hearing on an appeal shall, upon request, be supplied with information from such records to the extent necessary for the proper presentation and consideration of the appeal.

(c)  Any officer or employe of the department or the board, or any other public employe, who shall violate any of the provisions of this section shall, upon conviction thereof in a summary proceeding, be sentenced to pay a fine of not less than twenty dollars ($20) nor more than two hundred dollars ($200) and in default of the payment of such fine and cost of prosecution shall be sentenced to imprisonment for not longer than thirty (30) days.

(d)  Any employer who has been determined by the department to be subject to the reporting provisions of this act and has been so notified, and who neglects or refuses to file or to complete in such manner as the department may prescribe either the periodic report required by the department to establish the amount of such contributions or the periodic report required by the department showing the amount of wages paid to each employe, or both, on or before the date such reports are required to be filed, shall pay a penalty of ten per centum (10%) of the total amount of contributions paid or payable by the employer or employe as the case may be for the period: Provided, That such penalty shall be not less than twenty-five dollars ($25) or more than two hundred and fifty dollars ($250). Such penalty shall apply to the reports for each period with respect to which such reports are required to be filed: Provided, That such penalty shall not apply to reports for any period with respect to which the last day for filing such reports is prior to a date on which the department has notified the employer that he has been determined an employer subject to the reporting provisions of this act, unless the reports for such prior periods are not filed within thirty (30) days after the employer has been so notified. The penalties provided by this section shall be in addition to all other penalties provided for in this act. ((d) amended Nov. 17, 1995, P.L.615, No.64)

(206 amended July 21, 1983, P.L.68, No.30)

Section 207.  Cooperation with Social Security Board and Other Agencies.--(a)  (1)  In the administration of this act, the secretary shall cooperate with the Department of Labor to the fullest extent consistent with the provisions of this act, and shall take such action through the adoption of appropriate rules, regulations, administrative methods and standards, as may be necessary to secure to this Commonwealth and its citizens all advantages available under the provisions of the Social Security Act that relate to unemployment compensation, the Federal Unemployment Tax Act, the Wagner-Peyser Act and the Federal-State Extended Unemployment Compensation Act of 1970. ((1) amended Sept. 27, 1971, P.L.460, No.108)

(2)  In the administration of the provisions of Article IV-A of this act which are enacted to conform with the requirements of the Federal-State Extended Unemployment Compensation Act of 1970, the secretary shall take such action as may be necessary (i) to ensure that the provisions are so interpreted and applied as to meet the requirements of such Federal Act as interpreted by the United States Department of Labor and (ii) to secure to this Commonwealth the full reimbursement of the Federal share of extended and regular benefits paid under this act that are reimbursable under the Federal Act. ((2) amended Sept. 27, 1971, P.L.460, No.108)

(b)  Upon request therefor, the department shall furnish to any agency of the United States charged with the administration of public works or assistance through public employment the name, address, ordinary occupation and employment status of each recipient of compensation, and such recipient's rights as to further compensation under this act. ((b) amended Apr. 23, 1942, Sp. Sess., P.L.60, No.23)

(c)  The department may make the state's records relating to the administration of this act available to the Railroad Retirement Board, and may furnish the Railroad Retirement Board, at the expense of such board, such copies thereof as the Railroad Retirement Board deems necessary for its purposes. ((c) amended Apr. 23, 1942, Sp. Sess., P.L.60, No.23)

(d)  The department may afford reasonable cooperation with every agency of the United States charged with the administration of any unemployment insurance law. ((d) amended Apr. 23, 1942, Sp. Sess., P.L.60, No.23)

Section 208.  Civil Service; Selection of Personnel; Additional Duties of Secretary and Board.--(208 repealed Aug. 5, 1941, P.L.752, No.286)

Section 208.1.  Civil Service Appointment of Personnel.--(208.1 repealed June 22, 1964, Sp. Sess., P.L.112, No.7)

Section 209.  Obsolete Files, Records, etc.--The department may cause to be made such summaries, compilations, photographs, duplications or reproductions of any records, reports, or transcripts thereof, as it may deem advisable for the effective and economical preservation of the information contained therein. Original documents so photographed, duplicated or reproduced may be destroyed. Such summaries, compilations, photographs, duplications or reproductions, duly authenticated, shall be admissible in any proceedings under this act if the original record or records would have been admissible therein.

The provisions of section five hundred twenty-four of the Administrative Code of one thousand nine hundred twenty-nine, as amended, to the contrary notwithstanding, the department may provide by regulation for the destruction, after reasonable periods, of any records, reports, transcripts, other papers in its custody, or reproductions thereof, the preservation of which is no longer necessary for the establishment of contribution liability or of benefit rights or for any other purpose necessary to the proper administration of this act, including any required audit thereof. Contribution reports of employers or the photographs thereof shall be retained for a period of at least two years from the date of filing.

(209 amended Aug. 24, 1953, P.L.1397, No.396)

Section 210.  Reciprocal Arrangements with Foreign Governments.--To the extent permissible under the laws and Constitution of the United States, the department is authorized to enter into or cooperate in arrangements whereby facilities and services provided under this act and facilities and services provided under the unemployment compensation law of any foreign government may be utilized for the taking of claims and the payment of benefits under this law or under a similar law of such government, and to enter into arrangements of the character provided in this section with the agency of a foreign government administering an unemployment compensation law.

(210 added Sept. 29, 1951, P.L.1580, No.408)

Section 211.  Fund Analysis.--(211 repealed July 1, 1985, P.L.96, No.30)

Section 212.  Referral to Employment Offices.--The department shall refer all claimants eligible for compensation to employment offices for reemployment services.

(212 added Dec. 9, 2002, P.L.1330, No.156)

Section 213.  Relief from Charges for Certain Employers.--(a) An employer that makes payments in lieu of contributions pursuant to Article X, XI or XII shall be relieved of charges in accordance with section 302.1 and regulations of the department, for compensation paid on applications for benefits effective during a calendar year, if the employer satisfies the following requirements:

(1)  The employer pays a nonrefundable solvency fee under subsection (b) for the calendar year within thirty (30) days after notice of the fee is sent to the employer's last known address. The department may for good cause extend the period within which the fee must be paid.

(2)  All reports required by this act and regulations of the department for calendar quarters through the second calendar quarter of the preceding calendar year are filed.

(b)  An employer's solvency fee for a calendar year shall be the monetary amount determined by multiplying the solvency fee rate for the year by the amount of wages paid, without regard to the exclusion in section 4(x)(1), by the employer in the four consecutive calendar quarters ending on June 30 of the preceding calendar year, provided that an employer's solvency fee for a year shall not be less than twenty-five dollars ($25).

(1)  For calendar years 2003, 2004 and 2005, the solvency fee rate shall be three ten thousandths (.0003).

(2)  In 2005 the secretary shall redetermine the solvency fee rate. The secretary shall redetermine the rate so that the unrounded rate yields solvency fees approximately equal to the amount of compensation for which charges are relieved under this section. For purposes of redetermining the rate, the secretary shall use the amount of compensation for which charges are relieved under this section paid during 2003 and 2004 and the amount of wages paid, without regard to the exclusion in section 4(x)(1), during the same time period by employers who paid a solvency fee under this section. The rate as redetermined shall take effect for the next calendar year and shall remain in effect for three years.

(3)  Beginning in 2008 and each fifth year thereafter, the secretary shall redetermine the solvency fee rate. The secretary shall redetermine the rate so that the unrounded rate yields solvency fees approximately equal to the amount of compensation for which charges are relieved under this section. For purposes of redetermining the rate, the secretary shall use the amount of compensation for which charges are relieved under this section paid during the five calendar years immediately preceding the year in which the redetermination occurs and the amount of wages paid, without regard to the exclusion in section 4(x)(1), during the same time period by employers who paid a solvency fee under this section. The rate as redetermined shall take effect for the next calendar year and shall remain in effect for five years.

(4)  If the solvency fee rate redetermined under paragraphs (2) and (3) is not a multiple of one-hundredth of one per cent, it shall be rounded to the next higher multiple of one-hundredth of one per cent.

(c)  Solvency fees paid by employers under this section shall be deposited in the Unemployment Compensation Fund. Compensation for which charges are relieved under this section shall not be used in the calculation of the State adjustment factor under section 301.1(e).

(d)  The provisions of this section shall constitute the exclusive means by which an employer who makes payments in lieu of contributions pursuant to Article X, XI or XII may be excused from reimbursing the Unemployment Compensation Fund for compensation paid to an individual that is based on wages paid by the employer or that portion of the individual's compensation determined in accordance with section 1108.

(e)  A group account under section 1109 shall constitute an employer for purposes of this section.

(213 amended June 20, 2011, P.L.16, No.6)

 

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