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House of Representatives
Session of 2021 - 2022 Regular Session


Posted: December 21, 2020 05:48 PM
From: Representative Gerald J. Mullery and Rep. Liz Hanbidge
To: All House members
Subject: Improvements to PA Unemployment Compensation Law
COVID-19 has placed an unprecedented strain on working families, many of whom are relying on Pennsylvania’s overburdened unemployment compensation (UC) system to keep food on the table and make ends meet.  While the sheer number of claims and burdensome requirements under the UC law are largely to blame for the delays affecting UC claimants, that provides zero comfort to the families that are waiting to receive their benefits.  
We have heard the desperate pleas from our families, friends, and neighbors – now we need to act.  It’s time to help people get paid faster and make it easier for the PA Department of Labor and Industry to process claims.  To that end, we worked with the department to craft legislation that will address some of the most common roadblocks that arise in the UC claims process.  This bill makes the following changes to the UC Law:
·      Permanently eliminates the “waiting week” that makes claimants ineligible for benefits during the first week of unemployment.
·      Eliminates credit weeks from the process of verifying income, which too regularly causes delays in benefits and confusion amongst employers and claimants.
·      Eliminates severance pay requirements to minimize the occurrence of claims being sent to UC examiners for review, which further delays claims processing.
·      Streamlines the Shared Work Program to help claimants access benefits in a timelier manner.
In addition, our proposal will update the solvency definition and the trigger percentage to align more closely with the federal definition.  This change will allow the UC Trust Fund balance to increase faster and give the department a better understanding of whether the fund can handle a recession, while continuing to pay benefits without borrowing from the federal government.
This pandemic has shined light on many issues with how unemployment benefits are paid.  We hope that you will join us and the department in rectifying these issues so Pennsylvania’s working families can come to rely more soundly on this important public lifeline.

Introduced as HB549