Arizona Would Shift Burden to the Jobless

     PHOENIX (CN) – An Arizona Senate committee Wednesday approved a bill that will require unemployed workers, instead of their previous employers, to prove they qualify for unemployment benefits.
     Under House Bill 2147, “an individual who files a claim for benefits [should be required] to provide documentation or information sufficient for the department to determine the individual’s eligibility for benefits.”
     The Republican-led Senate Commerce, Energy and Military Committee approved the bill by a 4-3 vote on party lines.
     The bill by state Rep. Warren Petersen, R-Gilbert, would invalidate a claim if “an individual who files a claim for benefits has the ability to produce documents or information and fails to produce the documents or information.”
     It also shifts the burden of providing evidence to the employee if the employer “provides documentation that an individual either voluntarily resigned from employment or abandoned the individual’s employment.” This includes verbal and written statements from the employer.
     Also Wednesday the committee amended HB 2147 to require the Department of Economic Security to “make reasonable efforts to obtain the information necessary to determine the eligibility of the individual.”
     The measure passed in Arizona’s lower House by 36-23 on Feb. 21.
     Under Arizona law, jobless workers are entitled to one-half of their pay for up to 26 weeks, up to a maximum of $240 per week.

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