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After short debate, the Missouri Senate Wednesday, Feb. 13 passed legislation that would redefine “misconduct” for which an employee may be disqualified from unemployment benefits.
Senate Bill 28, sponsored by Senator Will Kraus, was passed on a unanimous vote by senators, after listing to an interesting discussion of instances in Missouri workplaces where employees were granted benefits after being fired for stealing from employers, taking illegal drugs at work and even public urination while on job at a school.
The Missouri Chamber is a lead proponent of this legislation and has worked with the sponsor to advance this legislation on behalf of its members.
“This is about integrity of the fund,” said Missouri Chamber Vice-President of Government Affairs Tracy King. “Missouri employers solely fund UI system, and it is a slap in the face when they have to turn around a payout benefits in cases where an employee is clearly breaking company policy and in some cases breaking the law.”
Currently, misconduct includes a wanton or willful disregard of the employer’s interest and a disregard of standards of behavior the employee. However, Missouri Chamber employer members are seeing a broad interpretation of that definition. The Department of Labor Projections for the Unemployment Trust Fund shows that $527 million has been borrowed and must be paid back and Missouri will continue to have a deficit balance until 2016, a debt that in compounded by abuses to the system.
“Liberal interpretation of the definition of misconduct will continue to allow cases like these to erode the system without this legislation,” King said. “This raises the cost on all employers who fund the system. We need to protect the system for the purpose it was intended.”
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