August 5th, 2017 | By: Carmen Sample | Tags: Management
When I started my first company I had no idea what unemployment insurance was. Nobody in my family had ever filed for unemployment as they had all owned their own businesses and it had never even crossed my mind as an option when I myself was looking for work at various times in my life. I can honestly say I never had even heard of it until I was forced to get insurance for my own company that I started. I definitely did not understand the negative impact on the business when someone tried to file for unemployment…
….Oh how quickly we learn when we start our own businesses. I have come to learn that unemployment benefits are the most abused and misused benefits in the workforce.
Here’s the thing: Unemployment benefits serve a purpose in an unstable market where layoffs are prevalent and it is hard to find a new job. I’m glad we offer this benefit as a society as I understand that the majority of Americans live paycheck to paycheck. I also understand that many are one paycheck away from complete devastation. I get it. Unemployment insurance IS for the single mom that lost her job due to no fault of her own….and hooray we have something like that for her and the many others that need it.
Unemployment benefits are NOT for someone that wants to quit their job because they decided working may just be too much of an inconvenience for their lifestyle. Yeah, I’d rather sit on my porch all day and drink mojitos too sometimes… but I have decided to be a contributing member to society instead, even when I don’t always feel like it.
When I had my first unemployment claim come through as a business owner I stared at it in confusion…. What was this?!?!?!?!?!? I read the employee’s false claims and had to call the State and say “I am not sure what this means to me….please explain”.
Now, if you are a business owner, I hope you share the same confusion I do when calling the unemployment office. It is a jumbled mess of responses that include “It will impact your business, but I can’t give you exact numbers… you should use a formula to determine the impact….but I can’t give you access to that formula.” Every time I call I get a different answer as to what the EXACT impact any claim may be on my premium. As a result, I have defaulted to this: FIGHT THEM ALL.
And fight all of our unemployment claims, we do. We win them as well — the vast majority, in fact. The representative assigned to our company has referred to our record as “impressive”. Yeah, I’m proud of it. I’m proud of that as a business owner because it means our employment practices are solid enough where we can produce documentation for “all the things” effectively and that we error on the correct side of workplace issues.
What a lot of people don’t understand is that unemployment insurance is paid by companies and when someone claims it unjustifiably, it negatively impacts the employer by a significant increase in expenses. Thus, these “benefits” are not an entitlement, they can only be accessed when an employee can show they lost their job to no fault or intent of their own. Thus, it is the Employer’s job to block this process if they want to keep their rates down.
I definitely don’t feel any guilt about protecting my business for three reasons:
You see, I work in a 1.8% unemployment market. Let’s be clear: 1.8% unemployment means it is a job seeker’s market. We are borderline to the point of employers standing on the street corners offering jobs like drugs. “I’ve got something reeeeaaaaallly good for you…come on in.”. In an unemployment market like mine, a job seeker can find a job. If someone can’t find a job in a 1.8% unemployment market I would argue that they aren’t really trying to work… which leads me back to those porch mojito drinkers…
Unemployment benefits are NOT for someone that quits their job because they were asked to work on a weekend. It is NOT for someone that didn’t get along with their boss and chose not to work it out. It is NOT for someone that wants to take the summer off to plan their wedding. It is NOT for someone that quit their job without having another one lined up (I am continually amazed at how many people do this). It is NOT for someone that chose to not show up for their shifts and was subsequently fired for it.
These people are choosing not to work, either directly or through their terrible performance….so they should go ahead and make a choice…I just better not get an unemployment letter the day they quit — Because now they’ve kind of declared unemployment war. That’s ok — I love a good power struggle…and I REALLY like to win.
My all-time favorite case was our first restaurant manager. We were paying him 60k a year for a whole lot of…well, nothing. He was really bad at his job, despite his “decade of experience”. He went out with a bang after 6 weeks when he got drunk WHILE working, threw glasses at employees (no, I’m not kidding) and comped half of the restaurant’s tickets. He was a hot mess….and was fired immediately.
Then comes the kicker…..we got an unemployment claim within a week with some wild accusations, and one of which that actually stated….. “I didn’t know I couldn’t drink on the job”.
Hah! No, I’m not making this stuff up. He actually said that to the unemployment officer. I read that letter and laughed in disbelief….and then I got busy building my case.
I then spent a day or two compiling over 72 pages of documentation on all of his ridiculousness to send to the unemployment officer. Was it worth my time? Yes, every little second —justice is worth a lot of money to me. I should have been a lawyer. We won, of course. He didn’t even have a chance when faced with our ninja documentation skills….and some good old fashioned common sense. I can say that I actually sleep better at night knowing that he didn’t get to sit at home and be paid after directly attempting to sabotage my business.
I like the fight for sure. What I like even MORE than the fight is keeping people honest. It is important that as a business, we set the standard and hold the line for a functional workforce. Letting someone get access to resources that they don’t deserve makes me mad. It also makes me mad for someone to claim benefits on my company after they tried to take it down…. No thank you — they should feel the pain of having to hustle to find new work after costing you hundreds of dollars through their poor or outright damaging performance…hopefully they will learn to never do that again and will be better for the next employer. There is also a high sense of validation that comes from seeing justice served to an individual that makes outrageous and false claims just to get benefits…That is simply not ok.
As the owner, my company is a precious little baby…and I will protect it with the fire of 1000 suns. Watch out. Mommas Be Crazy.
I think it is time for those people to go and find a new job….or drink mojitos and NOT get paid to do it. We all make choices, I guess. I do love a good mojito, after all….though I also love my paycheck that will let me keep buying those mojitos. #truth. So I guess I’ll do my best to not drink them to the point of intoxication at work. It’s tough being an adult sometimes.
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Carmen Sample is a Social Entrepreneur that built a 10 million dollar biz in 7 years, including a social service agency, treatment agency, retail biz, gallery and a restaurant. Follow her on Twitter: @carmensampleco
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