Categorized | Business

State awarded $1.09M for unemployment insurance program


The U.S. Department of Labor has awarded $1,098,390 to the Hawaii Department of Labor and Industrial Relations (DLIR) to improve the state’s business processes through the application of technology to the Unemployment Insurance (UI) Program.

The federal grants support business process improvements that will benefit both employers and workers.

Of the total, $484,390 will support the development of an online employer web application that will consolidate the contribution payment and report filing into a single process, eliminating paper-intensive procedures more prone to delays, errors and document misplacements.

Employers will have access to their account and data in real-time to complete their UI transactions.

The web application will enable employers to register with UI online; file wage and contribution reports; file amended reports; pay their UI taxes via credit card, automated clearing house (ACH) debit and credit; view account information such as tax rate, benefits paid out, reserve balance and filing history; and report fraud.

The planned implementation date is December 2016.

“Web filing systems are more responsive to the life styles of today’s employers and workers,” said DLIR Director Dwight Takamine. “Incorporating the web into our business processes is also consistent with the business model that the UI program is moving toward into the future.”

The other $500,000 will go toward improving Worker Misclassification Prevention and Detection through the implementation of a UI tax field audit application to identify employers and direct audits to employers that are most likely to employ misclassified workers (independent contractors).

This application will include data analysis and management tools to raise “red flags” for certain employing units that have a high probability of unreported/under reported workers and unpaid UI taxes.

Auditors will benefit by having current employer information and standardized worksheets and templates at their disposal while out in the field performing their audit functions, increasing the efficiency and effectiveness of audits that must meet stringent federal criteria.

The projected completion date for the project is September 2015.

Meanwhile, the DLIR is discontinuing the UI Hawaii Tele-claim system effective Oct. 1, 2014, as part of the long-term, strategic plan to improve business processes.

The interactive voice response (IVR) system was first implemented in 2000 and expanded in 2002 to allow jobless persons to file initial applications, as well as weekly certifications, by phone in lieu of reporting to their local unemployment offices in person.

However, in 2009, as web-based technology increasingly became the medium of choice for customers to access on-demand customer services, the DLIR developed an online filing option for claimants.

Individuals could conduct their UI related business at a location and time that was convenient for them. Creating an online account made direct deposit of UI benefits available, resulting in a faster and more secure method of payment than mailing of paper checks. In 2013, the DLIR made direct deposit of unemployment checks available.

Currently, approximately 75 percent of active claimants (7,000) file weekly claims online. As the migration to web filing steadily increases, the number of Hawaii Tele-Claim users has diminished to the extent that supporting two operational systems was not justifiable.

For several months, telephone messages, check receipt notices and individual letters have informed claimants of the Oct. 1 transition and offered assistance if needed.

All UI local offices are prepared to help by making computers available for online filing, by providing training as needed or by processing in-person claims for persons with special needs.

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