HB 1911 still would allow immediate benefits for terminated employees, but they would be required to sign an affidavit stating they didn't meet the criteria of misconduct, which would disqualify an unemployment benefit claim, he said. Misconduct — according to HB 1911 — includes excessive or unexplained absenteeism or tardiness, dishonesty, wrongdoing, violation of a law, and unsuitability for the required work.
“We don't need people cheating the system,” Echols said. “We've got to fix the fraud issue.”
Bill must pass review
HB 1911, in addition to needing to win the approval of the Legislature and the governor, also must pass a review by the Federal Employment Opportunity Commission because Oklahoma receives federal funds that make up part of the money paid in unemployment claims.
Echols said Oklahoma businesses are paying high unemployment rates caused partially by fraudulent unemployment benefit claims. The fraudulent claims also reduce the money available for terminated employees who deserve the benefits.
“If there's less money in the fund, benefits go down,” he said. “Those people that do deserve it are getting less money.”