Kentuckians facing work furloughs may have noticed something different this year.

A “waiting week” was implemented as a part of House Bill 5, which was passed during a special session of the 2010 Kentucky General Assembly. The bill went into effect this year on Jan. 1.

The change was made to help the state pay back hundreds of millions of dollars in federal loans.

As of Dec. 31, 2010, Kentucky had incurred nearly $805 million in federal loans to help pay unemployment benefits, according to the state’s Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund 2010 annual assessment.

“You must now serve a one-week waiting period per benefit year,” according to a statement on the Office of Employment and Training’s website. “Your waiting week will always be your first payable week.”

A representative from the Richmond Career Center explained how the newly implemented law is affecting those whose workplace has implemented mandatory furlough weeks.

At some companies, employees are required to take five unpaid days off per quarter. If that time is taken during five consecutive days, the employee may file for unemployment benefits.

The change in legislation requires furloughed employees to lose one unemployment check per year.

It is not necessarily the first furlough check of the calendar year that is not issued, the representative said. It is based on the person’s BYE date, which stands for Benefits Yearly Expiration. This date is the day which the employee made his or her first online unemployment benefit claim.

For example, if an employee takes their first furlough week beginning April 29, they are to file an online unemployment benefit claim the day prior to the beginning of the furlough. This would make the employee’s BYE date April 28.

Under the new legislation, the unemployment insurance claim must still be filed, but the employee will not get paid for that week because it is their first claim after establishing a new BYE date. However, after taking that “one week hit,” they will receive payments for other furloughs throughout the year, until they reach their BYE date again, the representative explained.

“The changes (under House Bill 5) aim to restore stability to an unbalanced unemployment insurance system and to shore up the state’s depleted UI trust fund,” according to the state’s Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund 2010 annual assessment.

The legislation was based on recommendations by a task force of Kentucky business and labor representatives and lawmakers Gov. Steve Beshear appointed to study the state’s unemployment insurance system.

“The Unemployment Insurance Task Force I appointed in March 2009 continues to provide workable, thoughtful and acceptable solutions to one of our state’s significant business challenges,” Beshear said.

Visit the Richmond Career Center, 595 S. Keeneland Drive, or call the office at 624-2564 for more details.

The office is open 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Mondays and Tuesdays, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Wednesdays and Thursdays, and Fridays 7:30 a.m. to noon.

Kentucky employees can visit to complete the online unemployment claim filing process and to learn more.


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