An Act To Strengthen the Unemployment Insurance Laws and Reduce Unemployment Fraud
Sec. 1. 26 MRSA §1051, sub-§1, as amended by PL 1983, c. 118, is further amended to read:
Each false statement or representation or failure to disclose a material fact shall constitute constitutes a separate offense. Unemployment fraud for a principal benefit amount of not more than $1,000 is a Class D crime. Unemployment fraud for a principal benefit amount of more than $1,000 but not more than $10,000 is a Class C crime, and unemployment fraud for a principal benefit amount exceeding $10,000 is a Class B crime.
Sec. 2. 26 MRSA §1192, sub-§2, as repealed and replaced by PL 1975, c. 25, is amended to read:
The individual must actively seek work each week in which a claim for benefits is filed unless the individual is participating in approved training under subsection 6 or work search has been waived in accordance with rules adopted by the commission and provide evidence of work search efforts in a manner and form as prescribed by the commission. Failure to provide required work search documentation results in a denial of benefits until the documentation is provided, unless the commission determines there is good cause for the individual's failure to comply with this requirement;
Sec. 3. 26 MRSA §1192, sub-§12, as corrected by RR 1995, c. 1, §23, is amended to read:
For purposes of this subsection, "good cause" means all circumstances described in the definition of good cause in Chapter 1 of the rules governing the administration of the Employment Security Law, including child care emergencies and transportation emergencies.
Sec. 4. 26 MRSA §1192, sub-§13 is enacted to read:
Sec. 5. 26 MRSA §1192, as amended by PL 2009, c. 271, §3 and c. 466, §2, is further amended by adding at the end a new paragraph to read:
For purposes of subsections 2, 12 and 13, "good cause" means the unemployed individual is ill; the presence of the unemployed individual is required due to an illness of the unemployed individual's spouse, children, parents, stepparents, brothers or sisters, or relatives who have been acting in the capacity of a parent of either the unemployed individual or the unemployed individual's spouse; the unemployed individual is in attendance at the funeral of such a relative; the unemployed individual is observing a religious holiday as required by religious conviction; the unemployed individual is performing either a military or civil duty as required by law; or other cause of a necessitous and compelling nature. "Good cause" does not include incarceration as a result of a conviction for a felony or misdemeanor.
Sec. 6. 26 MRSA §1193, sub-§2, as amended by PL 1979, c. 651, §§46 and 47, is further amended to read:
Sec. 7. 26 MRSA §1193, sub-§3, as amended by PL 1983, c. 650, §1, is further amended to read:
In determining whether or not work is suitable for an individual after the first 12 6 consecutive weeks of unemployment, the deputy shall consider the degree of risk involved to his the individual's health, safety and morals, his the individual's physical fitness, his the individual's prior earnings, his the individual's length of unemployment and prospects for securing local work in his the individual's customary occupation and the distance of the available work from his the individual's residence. The individual's prior earnings shall may not be considered with respect to an offer of or referral to an otherwise suitable job which that pays wages equal to or exceeding the average weekly wage in the State of Maine.
(1) If the position offered is vacant due directly to a strike, lockout or other labor dispute;
(2) If the wages, hours or other conditions of work are substantially less favorable to the individual than those prevailing for similar work in the locality;
(3) If, as a condition of being employed, the individual would be required to join a company union or to resign from or refrain from joining any bona fide labor organization;
(4) If the position offered is the same one previously vacated by the claimant for good cause attributable to that employment or is the position which that the employee left for reasons attributable to that employment, but which were found insufficient to relieve disqualification for benefits under subsection 1, paragraph A, provided that as long as, in either instance, the specific good cause or specific reasons for leaving have not been removed or otherwise changed; and
(5) If the position offered is on a shift, the greater part of which falls between the hours of midnight to and 5 a.m., and is refused because of parental obligation, the need to care for an immediate family member , or the unavailability of a personal care attendant required to assist the unemployed individual who is a handicapped person . ;
Sec. 8. 26 MRSA §1193, sub-§5, as amended by PL 2009, c. 638, §1, is further amended to read:
If the remuneration under paragraph A is less than the benefits which that would otherwise be due under this chapter, he shall be the individual is entitled to receive for that week, if otherwise eligible, benefits reduced by the amount of the remuneration, rounded to the nearest lower full dollar amount;
Sec. 9. 26 MRSA §1193, sub-§6, as amended by PL 1999, c. 464, §7, is further amended to read:
This bill amends the employment security laws pertaining to specific benefit eligibility requirements, including work search, suitable work, misconduct, unemployment fraud disqualification and participation in the reemployment eligibility assessment services.
The bill provides that it is an individual's responsibility to seek work and report work search efforts to the Maine Unemployment Insurance Commission and that failure to do so without good cause results in the loss of benefits; that participation in the reemployment eligibility assessment services is mandatory and failure to comply without good cause results in the loss of benefits; and that unemployment fraud for amounts exceeding $1,000 are either Class C or Class B crimes depending on the benefit amount involved. This change is consistent with the current prosecution of these crimes as theft under the Maine Revised Statutes, Title 17-A.
The bill increases the earnings requirement for requalifying for benefits after disqualification for refusing suitable work from 8 times the individual's weekly benefit amount to 10 times; changes the requirement that the individual must broaden the individual's work search after 6 weeks of unemployment rather than 12 weeks; increases the earnings requirement to requalify for benefits after a misconduct disqualification from 4 times the individual's weekly benefit amount to 10 times; imposes an indefinite disqualification from receiving benefits upon a 3rd determination of unemployment fraud; and adds vacation pay to the types of remuneration for which unemployment benefits are offset.