Employee Separation

Employers play an important role in helping the OESC determine worker's eligibility for unemployment benefits. This includes the timely return of employees' separation information. When a claimant is separated from employment for any reason other than lack of work, OESC must make a determination of eligibility for benefits based on information obtained from the claimant and the employer. Gathering complete and timely information from the employer is vital to this process.

Employer Responsibilities for Employee Separations

Notice of Application for Unemployment Insurance Benefits 

When an unemployment claim is filed, the employer is mailed a Notice of Application for Unemployment Insurance Benefits. This lets employers know they have 10 days to respond to the notice of application. This is the employer's first opportunity to provide separation information, in writing, within 10 days of mailing to be considered an interested party. 

Employer Discharge Statement Document

One convenient option for employers is the Employer Discharge Statement Document. Employers will need to print and then fax or mail the form to OESC. This document can be used to respond when the claimant was separated from employment for reasons other than lack of work. An employee that quits may still apply for and receive UI benefits if the claimant shows good cause connected to the work or compelling family circumstances. The employer's unemployment tax rate may or may not be affected depending on the claimant's situation.

Employer Voluntary Quit Statement

To report an employee that voluntarily quits, employers can use the Employer Voluntary Quit Statement The two types of claims below are available to employers who have large permanent layoffs or temporary layoffs. Employers will need to print, and then fax or mail the form to OESC.

If the claimant is separated for any reason other than lack of work, and no protest has been received approximately 10 days from the time the claim was filed, OESC will attempt to contact the employer for separation information through phone. If information is obtained during the call, the employer must still respond in writing to be considered an interested party to the claim. If the employer responds in writing but more information is required, OESC will contact the employer by phone or fax. The employer will have 2 days to respond with the necessary information. If the employer is contacted by mail, the employer will have 5 days from the postmark date to respond. 

Employer Options for Employee Separations

Mass Claims

Mass claims are unemployment claims established by the Commission for an employer that has a temporary layoff with a definite return to work of eight weeks or less. 

  • The process must be initiated by the employer
  • The temporary layoff must have a definite date of return to work and must be eight weeks or less
  • The return to work date must not be prior to Thursday of the week they are returning
  • There must be at least 25 employees affected by the layoff
  • The employer must submit an excel spreadsheet in the proper format with the information required

The employer’s IT department may need to get involved to provide and prepare the specific information required by the Commission. This method requires that the employer file the initial claim for the group of employees affected by the temporary layoff and the claimant file his/her weekly claim for each week they choose to claim.

If your company is interested in this option, please contact the Commission at the number or email address listed below. Upon request, the Commission will provide additional information regarding this filing method along with the specific file layout required. The mass claim information must be provided no later than Wednesday at 3:00 the week prior to the layoff to allow for problem resolution and processing time.

Temporary Layoff

A temporary layoff is a period of time that a company shuts down and temporarily lays off employees. The employee is given the expectation that they will return to work on or before a designated return to work date of eight weeks or less. 

If the temporary layoff exceeds eight weeks, it is no longer considered temporary. Under this circumstance, the claimant will no longer be considered a job attached and must register in Oklahoma’s labor exchange system, OKJobMatch.com, and perform the required number of work searches each week. They must also accept a suitable offer of employment. The claimants must file the initial unemployment claim themselves online, be responsible for filing the weekly claim, and correct any errors that occur by calling the Customer Service Line at 1-800-555-1554

If your company is interested in this option, please contact the Benefits Administration Commission. 

Employee Separation FAQs

What are our options if we make employees part-time?

Individuals who have their work hours reduced may be eligible for unemployment benefits. They may file online. When someone works part-time they must report their earnings the week they are earned, not paid. All earnings must be reported but we only deduct those earnings over $100 from their UI payment. If their earnings are greater than their weekly benefit amount plus $100, no payment will be made. 

If an employee quits will they be eligible for benefits?

It would depend on why they quit. Various sections of the Oklahoma Security Act of June 2019 may apply. You can access the entire Oklahoma Security Act here. Sections 2-404, 2-404.1, 2-404.2, and 2-210 all cover various situations surrounding voluntarily quitting a job. If the claimant can show good cause for quitting, benefits will be allowed. Section 2-405 provides a list of good cause reasons. Section 2-210 indicates: if the claimant quit on the advice of a doctor, to relocate with a spouse who has accepted employment outside of commuting distance or quits due to domestic violence or abuse benefits will be allowed. In the 2-210 situations, benefit wage charges may be waived provided the employer protests the payment of benefits and protests the benefit wage charge. 

Can our staff collect benefits if only working one day per week?

Yes. We would require them to report their gross earnings the week they performed the work. All earnings must be reported and any earnings over $100 will be deducted from the weekly benefit amount. As long as the earnings do not exceed the weekly benefit amount by $100, your staff will be eligible for payment. 

Will our employees claim be delayed if they are paid time off (PTO) upon closure?

This depends on the nature of closure. If the business is permanently closed, the PTO will have no effect on UI payments. If there is a return to work date, the PTO will be deducted in the same manner as earnings. 

How do I protest my former employee’s claims?

The protest requirements are found on the OES-617 Notice of Application for Unemployment Benefits. Protests must be postmarked or received within 10 days of the date on the notice. The protests must contain specific facts on why the claimant should not be paid benefits. 

If I have to close my business temporarily, do I need to report this to OESC, for purposes of unemployment claims?

No. 

If I have to close my business permanently due to COVID-19, do I need to report this to the OESC?

Yes. To do this submit a termination form (OES-24), online through the EzTaxExpress portal.

Can our employees file partial unemployment?

We no longer have the partial claims program, but anyone who has had their hours reduced to less than full-time may file an unemployment claim. 

Can the employer help their employees file a claim or must the employees do it on their own?

Employees must file on their own claims. However, if they need assistance in answering questions such as the employer address, etc., that assistance may be provided.

Our employees are paid bi-weekly – how is this handled?

Unemployment is paid on a weekly basis and all claim weeks need to be filed on a weekly basis. Employees must know how to determine their weekly salary. Have them multiply their hourly wage times the number of hours worked each week and report that amount. In cases where the employee is paid a specific bi-weekly salary, have them report half of the gross amount of the bi-weekly salary. 

How will providing severance to our employees affect their ability to apply for unemployment benefits?

If the payments are required due to law or contract, they will be deductible from unemployment benefits. Otherwise, they are considered a gift and not deductible. 

If we have employees who currently work 40 hours a week can we cut their hours to 32 hours a week? If so are we responsible for paying the difference? Can those employees get unemployment if we cut their hours?

In Oklahoma, full-time employment is 32 or more hours per week, and individuals full-time employed are not eligible for unemployment benefits. If the hours drop below 32, there is potential to receive UI payments. It will depend on the amount of wages paid during the week and the individual’s weekly benefit amount. All earnings must be reported and we deduct any earnings over $100. If the individual earns $100 more than the weekly benefit amount, no benefits will be paid. 

Can we lay off employees for a short term and bring them back? And would unemployment insurance cover that?

Yes. When a person is separated due to lack of work and they meet the monetary requirements, benefits will be paid. We allow a return to work dates within 8 weeks of the last day worked. The return to work date normally suspends our work registration and work search requirements. Since we have waived those due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the return to work date is not required at this time. 

Do we as employers pay for unemployment? If so would it be in our favor to continue letting people work the normal hours so we don’t have to continue paying when people are not working?

Yes, employer FUTA and SUTA taxes are collected from employers and used to pay for unemployment benefits. Oklahoma has waived the benefit waive the charge for claims filed as a result of COVID-19 in an effort to lighten the financial burden placed on employers due to the pandemic. 

How much can our employees work and still receive unemployment benefits?

It depends on the employee’s weekly benefit amount on unemployment and their earnings. All earnings must be reported during the week they are earned. We deduct only those earning over $100 from the weekly benefit amount. So if someone earns more than their weekly benefit amount plus $100, they will be ineligible for benefits due to excessive earnings. As an example, if an individual earned $150 we would deduct $50 from their benefit amount. Individuals who work 32 or more hours, regardless of earnings, are considered full-time employed and ineligible for benefits.

Related Topics

Separation Information Video

Employer Information & Forms

For Mass Claims or Temporary Layoffs only:

Benefits Administration

Email: [email protected]

Phone: (405) 557-7244