School districts face a unique circumstance related to employees filing for unemployment benefits: scheduled breaks over the summer months. Before staff leaves for the summer break, it is important that district administrators issue Letters of Reasonable Assurance (LRA) to employees who will have a break of one week or more in the coming school term.
According to the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC), employees are separated from employment when they are not working, which includes scheduled breaks. Reasonable Assurance is a provision that exists in the Texas Unemployment Compensation Act to protect school districts.
The provision applies to substitute teachers, food service workers, teacher aides, paraprofessionals, bus drivers, and any other personnel who will not be working during the break. Employees cannot receive unemployment benefits chargeable to school districts if they have reasonable assurance that they will return to work after the scheduled break.
Reasonable Assurance from one district protects the former district. If you release a contract employee for lack of work, but learn later that they have signed a contract with another district, ask the Texas Workforce Commission to protect your account from the date they sign the new contract.
The LRA does not protect an employer during the regular school year and is not applicable to employees on a contract. The sole function is to protect educational institutions in the event that an employee files a claim for unemployment insurance benefits during a scheduled break.
You can find out information about using Reasonable Assurance to reduce Unemployment Claims costs in the article from TASB HR Services. For more information or questions about the LRA, contact TASB Risk Management Services Unemployment Compensation Attorney James Ezell at 800.482.7276, ext. 2857.
Editor's note: This article was originally published in May 2016 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.