For Now, the State Says it is a Voluntary Program for Businesses... THAT COULD CHANGE!

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Tennessee labor officials are campaigning to get more employers to use a web based tool to respond to unemployment claims. The effort is in response, in part, to a state audit that uncovered $73.4 million in improper state unemployment benefit payments.

The department launched a web based program in March 2012 that allows employers to respond to claims electronically and track unemployment claims. The Unemployment Insurance State Information Data Exchange System (SIDES) E-Response allows employers to respond to unemployment claims via a secure database. They can fill out a required questionnaire, attached relevant documents electronically and track the unemployment claim.

The traditional method required employers to fill out a questionnaire and then mail or fax it back to the department of labor within seven days. If employers missed the deadline then the employee received unemployment benefits.

In turn their unemployment insurance tax increased whenever the department awarded unemployment benefits to a former employee. An audit found the fax and mail system lead to several problems, because claims were often overlooked or employees were not properly notified of an unemployment claim so they could dispute its validity.

Participation in the program is voluntary currently, but the state could make it mandatory in the future as part of its comprehensive plan to address the issues uncovered in the comptroller’s audit. The audit gave the department 90 days to address all of its findings.
State of Tennessee
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