If you’re reading this during the summer months, take a moment to check your mail after you’ve finished the article. If school is not in session, neither are many of your employees, and it is the peak time period for support and auxiliary personnel to file claims for unemployment benefits. You may have notice of a new unemployment claim sitting in your mailbox right now.
Even if your mailroom staff is off work or you have put your mail on hold at the post office, the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) doesn’t stop sending mail. The agency is open twelve months a year for taking claims and conducting hearings.
Why is it a peak time for employees to file claims?
Summer break is treated as a temporary work stoppage of work initiated by the employer (school district), which is the same thing as a layoff.
According to TWC, employees are eligible to receive unemployment benefits if:
- They are not fired for misconduct, and
- They didn’t voluntarily quit.
Summer break does not fall into either category. For employees who do not work during the summer, their job ended through no fault of their own, so they are eligible to file for unemployment compensation. Employees who are receiving paychecks over the summer months can file because they are receiving delayed pay for work already performed during the school year. Filing does not necessarily mean they will be paid benefits, but they can begin the claim process.
Why do you need to check your mail during breaks?
As with all TWC documents, you have 14 days from the mailed date to respond. That deadline is binding, whether your mail is on hold or the staff who checks mail is on vacation. If no one at your organization has checked the mail before the TWC deadline, you’ve lost your opportunity to respond to or appeal any decision made against you, even if it’s obviously false or incorrect.
When TWC mails you something, it is presumed that you received it three days later. If your mail is on hold, go pick it up. Additionally, if you have any telephone hearings scheduled over the break, you must call in and participate. Being out of the office on a break is not considered a valid reason for an employer to miss a telephone hearing.
The bottom line is that you must continue to check your mail over any break from school. You might not have to do it every day, but checking it at least once a week is a good practice. If it says it’s from TWC, don’t let it sit. Open it immediately because it’s almost always time sensitive.
If you need assistance or further explanation, call James Ezell, UC attorney for TASB Risk Management Services, at 800.482.7276, x6258.
Editor's note: This article was originally published in June 2012 and has been updated for accuracy and comprehensiveness.