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Your Wisconsin Employees Are Not Eligible for Unemployment Compensation Benefits While on Leave Due to the Birth or Placement of Adoption of a Child

Fall 2000

The Department of Labor (the "DOL") recently issued final regulations allowing states to adopt legislation that would extend unemployment benefits to a new class of eligible workers: parents who take a leave of absence or otherwise leave employment to care for a newborn or newly adopted child. To date, the Wisconsin legislature has taken no action in connection to these regulations. Accordingly, employees in Wisconsin are not eligible for unemployment compensation while on family leave.

The Unemployment Compensation ("UC") program is a federal-state partnership whereby states and the federal government collect taxes to pay unemployment benefits to certain eligible workers who have been terminated from employment. States administer the program and pay the benefits; however, to be eligible for a share of the federally collected taxes, a state's UC program must comply with federal law. The DOL has the authority to interpret the federal statutes regarding the UC program. One such federal requirement restricts unemployment benefits only to those terminated workers who are both "able to work and available for work" (the "A&A requirement"). The new regulations create an exception to the A&A requirement. They permit states to add a class of eligible employees for UC benefits without meeting the A&A requirement -- those who take a leave of absence for the birth or placement of adoption of a child. The new regulations do not change the way the UC program is administered; rather, it merely allows states to expand eligibility for their programs.

Are states required to provide Birth and Adoption UC?
No, the new regulations have no effect on their own. They merely permit a state to adopt legislation that would allow that state to provide UC benefits to new parents. Accordingly, state participation is completely voluntary. The regulations are drafted to allow states to develop their own requirements with regard go new parents.

How does Birth and Adoption UC compare to FMLA?
While the DOL issued these regulations partly in response to an FMLA study conducted by federal government, Birth and Adoption UC is not the same as FMLA leave. In contrast to FMLA, UC benefits would be available to all employees regardless of an employer's size, would cover only birth or adoption, and would not provide any job protection for parents who take leave.

These new regulations are titled Birth and Adoption Unemployment Compensation and are published at 20 C.F.R. Part 604. The final regulations were issued on June 13, 2000 and became effective on August 12, 2000.


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