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March 30, 2010
Four Ways to Keep Unemployment Taxes Low

In a 2010 BLR webinar entitled "Unemployment Taxes and Claims: How to Reduce Your Costs and Effectively Contest Claims," Ronald Adler, president and CEO of Laurdan Associates, Inc., stressed four positive actions employers can take in order to control their unemployment tax rates.

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"You can begin managing your unemployment tax rates by taking a long, hard look at your employment practices and policies to reduce the number of departing workers who may head to the unemployment office to claim benefits," said Adler.

He advises employers to:

  1. Hire the best qualified applicants for positions. Check the backgrounds of potential employees, take your time making the best hiring decisions, and focus on finding workers who are best suited for your openings. "The best technique for cutting unemployment expenses is to reduce job separations."
  2. Orient and train workers carefully. Use the orientation period to weed out new hires who are obviously not a good fit for your organization or their positions.
  3. Take a hard look at probationary periods to ensure that they fall under the minimum time that would qualify a new hire to apply successfully for benefits in your state(s). For example, some states have "last employer" rules in which a jobless worker’s entire benefits claim is charged to the very last employer. "Set your probationary/orientation periods so that you don’t fall under these rules."
  4. Document everything carefully. Have workers sign that they understand your workplace rules and that they completed their orientation periods. When you must counsel or discipline an employee, keep proper written records. Maintain complete and accurate personnel records of all kinds, including hours of employment. In your records, be specific—don’t say "bad attitude," for example, but spell out exactly what the employee in question did wrong. In the case of tardies and absences, always record not just the time and dates but also the reasons given by the employee.

Ronald Adler is president and CEO of Laurdan Associates, Inc. www.laurdan.com, a human resources management consulting firm specializing in unemployment insurance audits, consulting, research and expert witness testimony. Contact him at radler@laurdan.com.

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