Unemployment Compensation Reform Bill Backed by James Signed Into Law
HARRISBURG – State Rep. Lee James (R-Venango/Butler) today was in the state Capitol in Harrisburg to watch a bill he co-sponsored to reform Pennsylvania’s unemployment compensation system become law.

The bill would expand unemployment compensation eligibility for seasonal workers, increase penalties related to violations of Pennsylvania’s unemployment compensation system, and ensure employers and employees who participate in a hearing can access a written transcript and audio recording of the testimony.

The comprehensive reforms are estimated to save Pennsylvania’s unemployment compensation system approximately $1.5 billion during the next decade.

“We want to improve Pennsylvania’s unemployment compensation system for employers and workers,” said James. “This law addresses issues related to fairness and access to the system.”

The new law expands unemployment compensation eligibility for seasonal workers, including construction workers, roofers and others who are frequently laid off during certain times of the year when work is unavailable to them.

“We want to expand access to the system for trade workers who may be out of work from time to time due to no fault of their own,” James said.

The law increases fines on claimants who make false statements to obtain increased benefits and also increases fines on employers who commit unemployment compensation fraud.

“By increasing penalties on those who abuse the system, we can ensure there is money in the fund to provide benefits without further burdening contributors who follow the rules,” James said.

The other major change would ensure participants in an unemployment compensation hearing can access a written copy of testimony and an audio recording of the hearing.

“This is a fair reform because it would provide both sides with access to records of what took place at the hearing,” James said.

House Bill 319 was signed into law by Gov. Tom Wolf. The reforms increasing penalties for violations of the unemployment compensation system take effect in 180 days. The change to make hearing recordings and transcripts available takes effect in 60 days.

Representative Lee James
64th Legislative District
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Media Contact: Dan Massing
RepJames.com / Facebook.com/RepLeeJames

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