2021 - 2022 LEGISLATURE
January 31, 2022 - Introduced by Representatives Armstrong, Petryk,
Penterman, August, Brandtjen, Cabral-Guevara, Callahan, Dittrich,
Edming, James, Katsma, Kitchens, Knodl, Krug, Kuglitsch, Loudenbeck,
Macco, Magnafici, Moses, Oldenburg, Petersen, Plumer, Schraa, Snyder,
Sortwell, Steffen, Tittl, Tusler, Vorpagel, Wichgers, Zimmerman and
Born, cosponsored by Senators Wimberger, Bernier, Darling, Felzkowski,
Feyen, Marklein, Nass and Stroebel. Referred to Committee on Workforce
1An Act to renumber and amend
108.04 (2) (a) 4. and 108.04 (5) (e); to amend
16.54 (2) (a) 1., 108.04 (5) (b) and 108.14 (20); and to create
16.54 (14), 108.04 3
(2) (a) 4. d., 108.04 (5) (e) (intro.), 108.04 (5) (e) 2., 108.04 (5) (h), 108.14 (10m), 4
108.14 (23m), 108.14 (29) and 108.14 (30) of the statutes; relating to: various
5changes to the unemployment insurance law, requiring an audit to be
6conducted by the Legislative Audit Bureau, requiring approval by the Joint
7Committee on Finance of certain federally authorized unemployment benefits,
8and authorizing the secretary of administration to transfer employees from any
9executive branch agency to the Department of Workforce Development for
Analysis by the Legislative Reference Bureau
This bill makes various changes in the unemployment insurance (UI) law,
which is administered by the Department of Workforce Development. Significant
changes include all of the following:
Currently, if an employee is discharged for misconduct connected with his or her
employment, the employee is ineligible to receive benefits until certain
requalification criteria are satisfied. In addition, all wages earned with the employer
that discharges the employee are excluded in determining the amount of any future
benefits to which the employee is entitled. Current law provides a general definition
of misconduct and also specifies a number of specific actions that constitute
misconduct. This bill does all of the following with respect to what is considered
1. Current law specifically provides that misconduct includes theft of an
employer's property or services with intent to deprive the employer of the property
or services permanently, theft of currency of any value, felonious conduct connected
with an employee's employment with his or her employer, or intentional or negligent
conduct by an employee that causes substantial damage to his or her employer's
property. This bill:
a. Deletes the requirement that the employee have the intent to deprive the
employer of the property or services permanently.
b. Provides that intentional or negligent conduct by an employee that causes
the destruction of an employer's records is also considered misconduct.
c. Adds unauthorized possession of an employer's property, theft or
unauthorized distribution of an employer's confidential or proprietary information,
and use of an employer's credit card or other financial instrument for an
unauthorized or nonbusiness purpose without prior approval from the employer to
the list of what is considered misconduct.
2. Current law specifically provides that misconduct includes absenteeism by
an employee on more than two occasions within the 120-day period before the date
of the employee's termination, unless otherwise specified by his or her employer in
an employment manual of which the employee has acknowledged receipt with his or
her signature, or excessive tardiness by an employee in violation of a policy of the
employer that has been communicated to the employee, if the employee does not
provide to his or her employer both notice and one or more valid reasons for the
absenteeism or tardiness.
This bill instead provides that misconduct includes both of the following: 1) a
violation of an employer's reasonable policy that covers employee absenteeism,
tardiness, or both and that results in an employee's termination, if that termination
is in accordance with that policy and the policy is specified by the employer in an
employment manual of which the employee has acknowledged receipt with his or her
signature; and 2) if an employer does not have a policy covering absenteeism that
meets the criteria just described, absenteeism on more than two occasions within the
120-day period preceding an employee's termination, if the employee does not
provide to the employer both notice and one or more valid reasons for the
3. The bill specifically provides that misconduct includes a violation by an
employee of an employer's reasonable employment policy that covers the use of social
media specified by the employer in an employment manual of which the employee
has acknowledged receipt with his or her signature.
General qualifying requirements
Under current law, a claimant for UI benefits is generally required to 1) register
for work, 2) be able to work and available for work, and 3) conduct a work search for
each week in order to remain eligible. A claimant is required to conduct at least four
work search actions each week, and DWD may require, by rule, that an individual
conduct more than four work search actions per week. Finally, if a claimant is
claiming benefits for a week other than an initial week, the claimant must provide
information or job application materials that are requested by DWD and participate
in a public employment office workshop or training program or in similar
reemployment services required by DWD.
This bill does the following:
1. Requires a claimant who resides outside this state and who is claiming
benefits for a week other than an initial week to register with his or her local job
center website or labor market exchange and requires DWD to verify that each such
claimant has complied with that requirement.
2. Requires DWD to conduct random audits for at least 50 percent of all work
search actions reported to have been performed by claimants. Current law requires
random audits of work search actions, but does not require a specific number or level
The bill requires DWD to implement identity proofing measures for UI
claimants who are engaging in benefit-related transactions with DWD that: 1)
require a claimant to verify his or her identity prior to filing an initial claim for
benefits and when engaging in other transactions with DWD, and 2) achieve the
IAL2 and AAL2 standards adopted in the National Institute of Standards and
Technology's Digital Identity Guidelines.
Education and informational materials
Current law requires DWD to compile and provide to employers certain
information about how the UI system works, including a handbook on the UI system
for employers and information concerning the financing of the UI system to be
published on DWD's website. This bill requires DWD to also provide certain training
materials for employers and claimants on the UI system. The bill requires DWD to
publish prerecorded training videos on its website and also to provide quarterly, free,
live training seminars for employing units.
Assistance call center
This bill requires DWD to operate a call center to assist claimants for UI
benefits or similar federal payments. Under the bill, if the volume of calls has
increased by 300 percent or more over the same week during the previous year or if
there is a declared statewide emergency that causes or relates to an increase in UI
claims, DWD is required to increase the hours for the call center to include evening
hours after 5 p.m. and weekend hours.
This bill requires DWD to perform a comparison of state and national databases
that track death records, employment records, and prison records against recipients
of UI benefits for the purposes of detecting fraud or erroneous payments. The bill
requires DWD to perform the comparison on at least a weekly basis. The bill provides
that DWD may also make such comparisons with other databases.
UI benefit augmentations subject to review by Joint Committee on Finance
This bill provides that whenever any UI benefit augmentation is provided for
through an act of congress or by executive action of the president of the United
States, the cochairpersons of the Joint Committee on Finance must be notified, in
writing, of the proposed benefit augmentation. The bill defines “benefit
augmentation” to mean any action whereby the governor or any other state agency
or official would encumber or expend moneys received from, or accept
reimbursement from, the federal government or whereby the governor or any other
state agency or official would enter into any contract or agreement with the federal
government or any federal agency to 1) increase the weekly UI benefit rate payable
to claimants above what is provided under state law, or 2) increase the total amount
of UI benefits to which a claimant is entitled above what is provided under state law.
Under the bill, such a benefit augmentation is subject to a 14-day passive review by
the Joint Committee on Finance.
In addition, the bill provides that no benefit augmentation may be effectuated
unless it is subject to termination or cancellation by the Joint Committee on Finance.
Worker's compensation; misconduct
Currently, under the worker's compensation law, an employer is not liable for
temporary disability benefits during an employee's healing period if the employee is
suspended or terminated from employment due to misconduct, as defined under the
UI law. Under the bill, the changes to the UI law's definition of misconduct described
above apply under the worker's compensation law as well.
Audit of UI fraud detection and prevention efforts
This bill requires the Legislative Audit Bureau to conduct an audit of DWD's
efforts to detect and prevent fraud and to recover fraud overpayments in the UI
program, the federal pandemic unemployment assistance program, and the
pandemic emergency unemployment compensation program.
Transfer of employees to DWD
The bill authorizes the secretary of administration to temporarily transfer
employees from any executive branch agency to DWD to assist in deciding UI
appeals. Under the bill, DWD must pay all salary and fringe benefit costs of that
employee during the time the employee is at DWD.
For further information see the state and local fiscal estimate, which will be
printed as an appendix to this bill.
The people of the state of Wisconsin, represented in senate and assembly, do
enact as follows:
16.54 (2) (a) 1. of the statutes is amended to read:
(a) 1. Except as provided in subd. 2.
and sub. (14)
, whenever funds 3
shall be made available to this state through an act of congress and the funds are 4
accepted as provided in sub. (1), the governor shall designate the state board, 5
or department to administer any of such funds, and the board, 6
or department so designated by the governor is authorized and directed 7
to administer such funds for the purpose designated by the act of congress making 8
an appropriation of such funds, or by the department of the United States 9
government making such funds available to this state. Whenever a block grant is 10
made to this state, no moneys received as a part of the block grant may be transferred 11
from use as a part of one such grant to use as a part of another such grant, regardless 12
of whether a transfer between appropriations is required, unless the joint committee 13
on finance approves the transfer.
16.54 (14) of the statutes is created to read:
(a) In this subsection, “benefit augmentation” means for any state 16
agency or official, including the governor, to encumber or expend moneys received 17
from, or accept reimbursement from, the federal government or for any state agency 18
or official, including the governor, to enter into any contract or agreement with the 19
federal government or any federal agency, to do any of the following:
1. Increase the weekly unemployment insurance benefit rate payable to 21
claimants above what is provided under s. 108.05, including by providing any stipend
or other benefit separately from unemployment insurance benefits, if eligibility for 2
that stipend or benefit is determined, in whole or in part, based on an individual's 3
receipt of, or eligibility for, unemployment insurance benefits.
2. Increase the total amount of unemployment insurance benefits to which a 5
claimant is entitled above what is provided under s. 108.06 (2), including by 6
providing an increased overall benefit entitlement or additional weeks of benefits.