Returning to Work: A Post-Pandemic Guide for Tennessee Employers

Date: May 13, 2021

NFIB members in Tennessee are reporting a significant shortage in available workers. The following information is provided to help you connect with workers in your area and to know what’s ahead for unemployment in Tennessee.  

The Latest – Federal UI Benefit to End 

NFIB joined 13 other business groups across the state, calling for an end to the $300 in extra weekly unemployment insurance (UI) benefits authorized by the federal government through Sept. 6. Earlier this week, Gov. Bill Lee announced beginning July 3 unemployed workers in the state will no longer receive that benefit. Read more here. This action is expected to bring back many workers who have been out of the workforce the last year. 

State Resources for Your Business 

The Department of Labor and Workforce Development can help many businesses meet their hiring needs. There are nine Regional Directors of Local Workforce Development who can discuss available options. Find your Regional Director hereThe jobs4tn.gov website also can be a resource. Look under “Business Solutions” to post a job and for other information. 

Interview No-Shows and Employee Recalls 

The Department’s Benefit Integrity Unit will investigate unemployment claimants who show interest in working for you, but neglect to show up for interviews, disregard outreach for potential employment, or refuse suitable work. Claimants who refuse an offer of suitable work can lose their benefits. If you laid off an employee during the pandemic, and business has returned to the point where you can call them back and they decline to answer that call, the Department can investigate.  

Submit a refusal of suitable work complaint here. You can also call the Benefit Integrity Unit toll free at (833) 319-1255 to speak with an agent to provide the necessary information to start an investigation.  

UI Taxes to Stay Low 

The other good news in Tennessee is your unemployment insurance taxes will remain low for the foreseeable future, due to swift state action for which NFIB advocated. Specifically, we successfully supported:  

  • Nearly $1 billion in stimulus dollars directed to the UI Trust Fund, saving small businesses from tax increases of 300% or more.  
  • An executive order and later legislation that allowed the Commissioner of Labor & Workforce Development to “non-charge” employer accounts because of layoffs during COVID-19.  
  • A modernization bill, HB 1039/SB 1402, that will help to promote transitions back to work sooner, while helping more unemployed Tennesseans receive between $200/month and $100/month more, based on eligibility requirements. This indexing bill will be positive to the trust fund ($17M/year), which will help to ensure it remains solvent and make it less likely that TN would have to borrow from the federal government in future downturns. However, the law will not take effect until December 2023 due to implementation challenges as Tennessee works to modernize its system. 

What’s Next 

Tennessee leaders are preparing to take a deeper dive over the summer and fall to find ways to improve our unemployment system.  It has been almost 10 years since the state enacted reforms that made improvements, primarily addressing fraud and abuse. NFIB will keep you posted on new proposals we expect will be debated in the 2022 legislative session.  

Related Content: News | State | Tennessee

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