Thursday, April 18 2024

Employees who are fired for cause would not be able to receive any unemployment benefits under a bill introduced in the South Carolina Senate Tuesday.

State Sen. Kevin Bryant (R-Anderson)

Sen. Lee Bright (R-Spartanburg) drafted the legislation after learning of a new state Department of Employment and Workforce (SCDEW) policy that would limit a fired employee to no more than four weeks of unemployment benefits. Bright said those employees should not receive the benefits at all.

Although state law already declares a fired employee ineligible for benefits, but that employee can appeal the firing and apply for benefits in the meantime.

Sen. Kevin Bryant (R-Anderson) said once a worker is paid any state benefits, even if it is for only one week, that employee is still eligible for an additional 57 weeks of federal extensions.

SCDEW’s new policy, which took effect two weeks ago, would cover those fired for absenteeism, poor attitude, violating rules, or poor work quality. Bryant says the rules do not go far enough.

“If you don’t show up for your job and you get fired, you shouldn’t draw any benefits,” Bryant said on the Senate floor Tuesday.

Bryant cited an SCDEW report that found $50 million was given last fiscal year to workers who had been fired from their previous job.

“We’ve got to provide these benefits to people who lose their job through no fault of their own,” Bryant said.

Under state law, companies that lay off the most employees pay the highest unemployment insurance premiums. Some opponents of S.1125 worry companies will purposely fire some employees instead of laying them off to avoid those higher premiums.

“How can one be assured there’s fairness?” asked Sen. Ralph Anderson (D-Greenville), “You’re listening to only the owner or the supervisor.”

The bill heads to a Senate Labor, Commerce, and Industry subcommittee.

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