The work of the Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry is paying off, as one of its lead priorities is sent to the governor. The Missouri House today passed legislation that would redefine “misconduct” for which an employee may be disqualified from unemployment benefits. Senate Bill 28, sponsored by Sen. Will Kraus, was passed on a 98-57 vote by representatives, after listening to instances in Missouri workplaces where employees were granted benefits after being fired for stealing from employers, taking illegal drugs at work, and even public urination while on the job at a school.
The Missouri Chamber has been the lead proponent of this legislation.“We applaud Sen. Will Kraus, sponsor of the bill, and Rep. Mike Cierpiot, bill handler in the House, for taking on this tough issue,” said Tracy King, Missouri Chamber vice president of governmental affairs. “There are some that tried to paint the bill as anti-employee and that could be no further from the truth. This is a bill about integrity. It’s a bill designed to protect the system for those who need it – employees that are terminated at no fault of their own. How can you say that an employee terminated for stealing from an employer or blatantly breaking company policy is qualified for unemployment?” Currently, misconduct includes a “wanton or willful disregard of the employer’s interest and a disregard of standards of behavior.” However, Missouri Chamber employer members are seeing a narrow interpretation of that definition, making denying unemployment extremely difficult.
“Liberal interpretation of the definition of misconduct will continue to allow cases like these to erode the system without this legislation,” King said. “This raises the costs on all employers who fund the system. We need to protect the system for the purpose it was intended.”
Currently, Missouri’s Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund is more than $500 million in the red. Unemployment insurance abuses – like those presented by lawmakers on the floor and many Missouri Chamber members – play a factor in that deficit.
To thank Sen. Will Kraus for his work on SB 28:
To thank Rep. Mike Cierpiot for his work on SB 28:
To connect to Tracy King’s Opinion Editorial sent early in the session urging work on this issue, click here.
For more information on this issue, contact Tracy King at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by phone at 573-634-3511.