New requirements could mean unemployed would lose benefits if they refuse a job

12:11 PM, Oct 4, 2012   |    comments
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New state rules change job acceptance requirements for Tennesseans who draw unemployment benefits.

The Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development announced Thursday that unemployment claimants who refuse to accept a suitable offer of employment will be disqualified from receiving benefits.

Recent changes to Employment Security Law redefine what is considered to be a suitable job offer and revise the standard based on the length of time unemployment benefits are received.

If the state unemployment agency finds an unemployment claimant has refused suitable work based solely on the rate of pay, then his or her claim will be stopped for refusing such work.

In the past, to be considered suitable employment, the proposed job had to be approximately the same pay rate and hours as the claimant's most recent work.

Now claimants must decrease salary and wage demands the longer they receive unemployment benefits.

A job offer is considered suitable based on the following guidelines:

  • During the first 13 weeks of unemployment, an offer of 100 percent of the wages of the most recent work
  • During the 14th through the 25th week of unemployment, an offer of 75 percent of the wages of the most recent work
  • During the 26th through the 38th week of unemployment, an offer of 70 percent of the wages of the most recent work
  • After the 38th week of unemployment, 65 percent of the wages of the most recent work

Other factors taken into consideration include previous wage and skill levels. Suitable work also involves having hours and days that are standard to the industry, and commuting distance must be reasonably the same as previous work experience.

A claimant will not be required to accept employment below the federal minimum wage. An offer of employment is not considered valid if only a possibility of employment exists.

Employers are encouraged to notify the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development Benefit Payment Control Unit at (615) 741-2606 if they feel a claimant has refused a suitable offer of employment.

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