You shouldn’t be rewarded for bad behavior. That’s the principle behind a new law—a victory for the Missouri business community—that will ensure our state’s employers will no longer be required to pay unemployment benefits to workers who are fired after willfully breaking workplace rules.
The new law, Senate Bill 510, changes Missouri’s standards that dictate which employees are allowed to receive unemployment compensation upon termination. Previously, Missouri’s unemployment benefits laws were far too inclusive, effectively rewarding some employees who broke workplace rules. Senate Bill 510 was sponsored by Sen. Will Kraus, R-Lee’s Summit.
“As we’ve worked to attract business development, Missouri’s unemployment compensation situation has been a glaring black eye for our state. What business would choose to invest in a state where the law requires you to reward negligent employees?” asked Daniel P. Mehan, Missouri Chamber president and CEO. “Passing this bill brings more fairness to our system. This was a priority for the Missouri Chamber and our members statewide. We greatly appreciate the work of the leaders in the Missouri General Assembly for making this possible.”
The new law will also help ease the strain on Missouri’s unemployment insurance system. The system’s current design allows it to become quickly overwhelmed during an economic downturn, requiring the state to borrow funds from the federal government to pay for employee benefits. After the last recession, Missouri employers spent years contributing extra fees toward repayment of the debt. This debt likely prolonged the recession in Missouri, as it consumed funds that businesses otherwise could have invested in growth.
“This new law is a great step forward. However, Missouri’s unemployment system remains ripe for a complete overhaul,” Mehan said. “We will continue to work with the business community and lawmakers to address this. There is so much more we can do to ensure our state is a place where business can grow and hard workers can succeed.”
Senate Bill 510 was one of two bills that Gov. Jay Nixon allowed to become law without his signature.