April 12, 2012
AUGUSTA – Governor Paul LePage signed Thursday LD 1725, “An Act to Strengthen the Unemployment Insurance Laws and Reduce Unemployment Fraud.” The bill included a number of reforms to the Maine Unemployment Insurance program and was sponsored by Senator Christopher Rector, chair of the Joint Standing Committee on Labor, Commerce, Research and Economic Development.
“Unemployment is an important safety net for workers, but we need to be sure it goes only to people who have lost their jobs and are out of work through no fault of their own,” said Maine Governor LePage.
The measure tightens up unemployment eligibility for people who were fired due to misconduct, turned-down suitable work, are receiving vacation pay, or have committed unemployment fraud in the past.
It also amends state unemployment law to clarify that claimants are required to register for work, participate in job search workshops, and comply with reporting requirements in order to continue receive unemployment benefits.
The measure also includes a clause barring individuals who are found to have committed three separate instances of unemployment insurance fraud from collecting unemployment in the future. The Commissioner of Labor would have the authority to grant a waiver to this provision in exceptionally unusual circumstances.
“For most workers collecting unemployment, finding a job is their first priority,” said Maine Labor Commissioner Robert Winglass. “However, those who take advantage of the system and don’t follow the rules are going to find out quickly that unemployment will no longer be an option.”