UC Issues Update Newsletter
Fall 2013
Volume 16 | Number 3
In This Issue...

Important Information Regarding Mandatory Electronic Filing

Electronic filing is here! Are you ready?
 
The employer release of the Unemployment Compensation Management System, or UCMS, has been available since January 2013. This release allows employers and third party administrators, or TPAs, to access information and file quarterly reports online.
 
If you have not already registered with UCMS to file electronically, the time to do so is now.
 
Effective with the first quarter 2014 filing, employers will be required to electronically file quarterly UC tax and wage reports through UCMS.
 
The Department of Labor & Industry, or L&I, will not be mailing UC-2 and UC-2A forms to employers for any filing period that begins on or after Jan. 1, 2014. Please go online now and access UCMS.
 
To access UCMS, go to www.paucemployers.state.pa.us or from the www.dli.state.pa.us website, click on the UCMS logo logo.
 
UCMS offers options for filing your quarterly reports. Employers must use one of the following methods:
 
For employers reporting fewer than 100 employees:
  • Key online (Employee information can be pre-populated making it easy to file.)
  • File Upload
  • FTP
For employers reporting 100 or more employees:
  • File Upload
  • FTP
A user guide is on page 7 for your reference, as well as tips for using file upload or FTP. Additional instructions can be found at www.dli.state.pa.us, Employers/Unemployment Compensation/UC Management System/ Understanding the Employer Tax Portion of UCMS. http://www.portal.state.pa.us/portal/server.pt?open=514&objID=750546&mode=2
 
Employers who do not file their quarterly reports online for filing periods that begin on or after Jan. 1, 2014, may be assessed a penalty of 10 percent of quarterly contributions due at a minimum of $25 and a maximum of $250.
 
If you have questions, please contact the UC Employer Contact Center at 866-403-6163 or, within the Harrisburg area at 717-787-7679, weekdays from 8 a.m. until 4:30 p.m., Eastern Standard Time. To ensure proper handling of your inquiry, please be prepared to provide the name of your business and your Pennsylvania UC account number.

Important UC Tax Facts for 2014

The Office of UC Tax Services will mail the Pennsylvania Contribution Rate Notice for calendar year 2014, Form UC-657, on Dec. 31, 2013. Employers who received their 2014 UC Contribution Rate Notice with this mailing date will have the following important tax deadlines:
  • Jan. 30, 2014, is the last day to file a timely Voluntary Contribution to lower the 2014 contribution rate. (A Voluntary Contribution must be filed within 30 days from the mailing date of the UC Contribution Rate Notice or no later than April 30, 2014, whichever is earlier.)
     
  • March 31, 2014, is the last day to file a timely rate appeal to the contribution rate reflected on the UC Contribution Rate Notice. (A timely rate appeal must be filed within 90 days of the mailing date of the UC Contribution Rate Notice.) Please note that the surcharge adjustment, additional contributions and interest factor are not appealable items.
     
  • April 30, 2014, is the last day to file a timely election for a Debit Reserve Account Balance Adjustment.
Employers who received a 2014 UC Contribution Rate Notice with a mailing date other than Dec. 31, 2013, will need to adjust these deadlines according to the instructions on the reverse side of the form.

Taxable Wage Base and State Adjustment Factor

As part of the Act 60 amendments to the Pennsylvania UC Law, the taxable wage base for employer contributions will be increasing each year from 2013 through 2018. At the same time, the maximum state adjustment factor has been decreased from 1.5 percent to 1.0 percent through 2016 and will decrease further thereafter. The following chart lists the taxable wage base and state adjustment factor amounts beginning 2013:
 
Calendar Year Taxable Wage Base for Employer
Contributions
(per employee per year)
Maximum State
Adjustment Factor
2013 $8,500 1.0%
2014 $8,750 1.0%
2015 $9,000 1.0%
2016 $9,500 1.0%
2017 $9,750 0.85%
2018 and thereafter $10,000 0.75%
 
The following solvency measures will be in effect for 2014:

Employer Taxes

A 5.1 percent (.051) surcharge on employer contributions, unchanged from 2013. The surcharge adjustment is computed by multiplying your basic rate by the 5.1 percent surcharge. The surcharge adjustment does not apply to reimbursable employers.
 
A 0.65 percent (.0065) additional employer contribution, unchanged from 2013. The additional contribution is added to your tax rate as adjusted by the surcharge. The additional contribution is not applicable to non-delinquent newly liable and reimbursable employers.
 
A 1.1 percent (.011) interest factor, unchanged from 2013. Due to the passage of Act 60 of 2012, the interest factor is being used to fund the payment of bond obligations beginning in 2013. It may also be used to fund payment of interest on federal loans, even though Pennsylvania does not currently have a federal loan balance. The interest factor is not applicable to non-delinquent newly liable employers. Also, it is not credited to the employer’s reserve account nor considered for federal certifications.
 
Employer Taxes Example:
 
Basic Rate   Surcharge   Additional
Contributions
  Interest
Factor
  2014 Total
Contribution Rate
.0210 + (.0210 x .051 = .001071) + .0065 + .011 = .039571
 

Employee Contributions

A 0.07 percent (.0007) tax on employee wages, or 70 cents on each $1,000 paid. This is unchanged from 2013. Employee withholding contributions are submitted with each UC-2/2A quarterly report. Employee withholding applies to the total wages paid in 2014. It is not limited to the $8,750 taxable wage base for employer contributions. Failure to withhold or remit this employee tax could result in interest charges and may affect your contribution rate for subsequent years.

Benefit Reduction

A 1.7 percent (.017) benefit reduction. This is unchanged from 2013. With few exceptions, the weekly UC benefit amount for all claimants will be reduced by 1.7 percent.
 
Information on penalties and interest for unpaid UC taxes will be available online in the near future at www.dli.state.pa.us. To access this information, select "Employers," then "Unemployment Compensation," then "UC Tax Information," and then select "Penalties & Interest."
 
If you have any questions concerning this information, please contact the Employer Contact Center at 866-403-6163 or within the Harrisburg area, 717-787-7679 Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. until 4:30 p.m.

Attention Reimbursable Employers

Mailing of the annual Reimbursable Employer’s Election for Relief From Charges and Notice of Solvency Fee form for calendar year 2014 is projected for early November 2013.
 
If you are a reimbursable employer and wish to be eligible to request relief from charges associated with applications for benefits (claims) with an effective date in the upcoming year, your solvency fee payment must be postmarked within 30 days of the mailing date of the notice. Also, all reports required by the Pennsylvania UC Law for calendar quarters through the second quarter of 2013 must be filed.
 
Note: The Pennsylvania UC Law requires the department to periodically re-determine the solvency fee rate, which is used to compute the employer’s solvency fee. The solvency fee rate effective for calendar year 2014 is 0.24 percent. This rate will remain in effect until 2018, when it will be recalculated for calendar years 2019 through 2023.
 
An employer’s solvency fee is determined by multiplying the solvency fee rate, 0.24 percent (.0024), in effect for calendar year 2014 by the employer’s gross wages for the period spanning the third quarter of 2012 through the second quarter of 2013. If the result of this calculation is an amount that is less than $25, a minimum solvency fee of $25 is due.
 
For more information on the reimbursable relief-from-charge option, visit www.uc.pa.gov or call the UC Employer Contact Center toll-free at 866-403-6163, or within the Harrisburg area, 717-787-7679.

JobGatewaySM State-of-the-Art Job-Matching Website

JobGatewaySM brings local talent and employers together, quickly and more effectively. It dramatically improves job-search capabilities for anyone looking for a job. The site gives job seekers real-time jobs postings and it offers suggestions on jobs that may be of interest to potential candidates.
 
With an average of 200,000 job openings on the site and 3,500 new postings daily, JobGatewaySM has had more than 300,000 job seekers, on average, use the site every month. The site has received more than 2.5 million job applications since it launched.
 
Governor Tom Corbett, along with Department of Labor & Industry Secretary Julia Hearthway, recently announced the latest release of JobGatewaySM, a website created to better connect employers and job-seekers.
 
JobGatewaySM is free to both job seekers and employers. After registering, people looking for work have access to a number of search options unique to the site, including:
  • Automatic job recommendations based on search preferences
  • A dashboard that makes it easy to track and manage job applications
  • Pennsylvania Career Coach, a career exploration tool with valuable employment data such as estimated earnings and local educational programs, to help prepare for a specific occupation
  • Military Translator, helping veterans translate their military skills into civilian terminology
  • The ability to share job postings via email, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+
JobGatewaySM Mobile provides job seekers access to jobs from a mobile phone or other device.
 
The site originally went live in July 2012 for use by unemployment compensation claimants to register for employment search services as part of their active search for work requirement. Since that time, the site was opened to all job seekers and, most recently, employers for posting job openings. Multiple enhancements over the past year include improved job posting tools and enhanced candidate search screens for employers. New enhancements for employers include customizable screening questions to help find the right candidates.
 
For more information, visit www.jobgateway.pa.gov.

2012 Actuarial Evaluation Now Available Online

The Actuarial Evaluation of the Financial Operations of the Pennsylvania UC Program is an annual report that provides analysis of current and forecasted Pennsylvania UC system activity. The report contains highlights of UC program improvements and law changes, UC cash flow analysis, a projected three-year outlook, and an overview of the economic forecasts used to estimate UC activity.
 
The 2012 Actuarial Evaluation is now available on the Center for Workforce Information & Analysis website at www.paworkstats.pa.gov. For additional assistance, please contact us at 877-493-3282 or email inquiries to workforceinfo@pa.gov.

Save Your Company Money

By responding to our requests for information in a timely manner, you can save your company money. You can prevent inappropriate charges to your account and help preserve the UC Trust Fund by completing: 1) new hires form, 2) employer separation form, 3) fact-finding questionnaires and, 4) relief-from-charges requests. Please ensure these forms are complete and mailed to the address provided in a timely manner or in the instance of the employer separation form, given to the employee at the time of separation. This enables the UC service center to mail the fact-finding questionnaire and other timely correspondence to your proper address. Delay, incomplete information or failure to submit these and other forms may affect your account and your charges.
 
For example, Form UC-640, Monthly Notice of Compensation Charged, notifies you of the benefit charges and credits applied to your Pennsylvania employer account during a particular period. A visual explanation of each line item on this form may be found on the departments UC website here. The form lists the former or current employee(s) who have been paid UC benefits, the week ending date for which benefits were paid, the amount of benefits paid, the date the benefits were paid, your percent of charge, the amount charged to your account and the fiscal year in which the benefits were paid. If you are a contributory employer, the net total of the amounts listed on your charge notices will be used in determining your contribution rate in the future. Reviewing the information provided on this form is important in managing your UC account. You have 90 days from the mailing date of the form to protest the data.
 
Completing departmental forms and returning them promptly will help us ensure that your account is correctly charged and that UC benefits are paid to only those who qualify.

Email Scams

L&I has learned that an email scam is being sent to employers across the country. This email requests wage and separation information for former employees under the guise that they are filing a claim for Disaster Unemployment Assistance, or DUA benefits. The department would never request confidential information in this manner.
 
If you received a similar questionable email and believe that your identity, or that of your employees, has been compromised because of it, please contact your local law enforcement for assistance and file a report on the department’s Report Fraud NOW! webpage to make the department aware of the improper activity.

UC Webinars

Would you like to participate in our webinars and learn more about UC topics for employers? Our topics include: Quits and Discharges, Suitable Work, Relief from Charges and more. The Office of UC Service Centers, Customer Services, plans to schedule these informational webinars quarterly. Please visit this page periodically for more information on our upcoming webinars. Information on how to register for the webinars will be on this page.

EMPLOYERS - Do You Have New Hires?

Report your new hires electronically to the Pennsylvania New Hires Reporting Program, saving time and postage. Simply go to our website at www.pacareerlink.state.pa.us and click on the "Report New Hires" link under the "Employers" section. It's fast, free and paperless.
 
For questions about reporting new hire data, please contact New Hire Customer Service at 888-PAHIRES (888-724-4737) or by email at RA-LI-CWDS-NewHire@pa.gov.

UCMS QUICK REFERENCE GUIDE

  1. Access www.paucemployers.state.pa.us or use the UCMS logo logo found on the L&I home page to access the UCMS log in page.
     
  2. Register to obtain your user ID and password and log in to your account.
     
  3. Employer Home Page - Choose a menu option to navigate through your portal.
     
    Employer Home Page menu
     
  4. Employer Profile
    • View or change demographic information
    • Update address, officers
    • Inactivate account
    • Manage representatives - add or change TPA
    • Receive account messages
     
  5. Quarterly Reporting
    • Filing online limited to 100 employees
    • More than 100 employees use file upload or FTP. Files must be validated through the current version of File Checker prior to submission. The File Checker can be found by going to the website under UC Management System
     
  6. Making a Payment - four options
    • ACH debit* - Payments made after 2 p.m. will post on the second business day
    • ACH credit* - Bulk files (TPAs) should use the CCD+ to make their individual client payments
    • Credit card
    • Payment voucher
*Please be advised that payments do not post immediately and please do not make a second payment for the same receivable. It will remove money from your bank account twice.
 
If you have questions or need assistance with your user ID or password, please call the UC Employer Contact Center at 866-403-6163, or within the Harrisburg area at 717-787-7679 between the hours of 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Eastern Standard Time.

Tips for Electronic Filing Using File Upload or FTP

  • Employers with more than 100 employees must file wage detail electronically via file upload or FTP. Employers with 100 or fewer employees may manually enter employee wage detail directly in the UCMS employer portal. Note that employee information is pre-populated in UCMS to facilitate the entering of quarterly wage detail by employers.
     
  • Reimbursable financing method - employers/clients should enter zeros for any taxable wage fields.
     
  • File naming conventions must be according to those indicated in the UCMS File Layouts and Formats for Electronic Reporting of PA Quarterly UC Wage and Tax Data Handbook found at http://www.portal.state.pa.us/portal/server.pt/community/uc_management_system/18222.
     
  • The ICESA and SSA files are UC2A wage reporting only. Users must file a TAB file for the UC tax report.
     
  • Upload the file one time. Depending on the size of your file and during high volume filing, it may take time for the system to process the data. You can see the status of your file(s) that include tax reporting by logging in and reviewing the "Manage Uploaded Files" screen. File(s) that only reflect wage reporting will not be displayed.
     
  • If the files are incorrectly formatted, they will either fail to process or the data within the file will post inaccurately. Errors to watch for:
     
    • If you use CSV format:
      • Too many commas
      • Not enough commas
      • Need to indicate both the quarter and year in the E Record
      • Do not use decimal points in any amount field in the E and S records
      • Make sure there are no extra blank lines
       
    • If you use ICESA and SSA format:
      • Use caution when truncating the record length. The fixed-length file is 275 bytes
      • Make sure there are no extra blank lines
       
    • If you use TAB format:
      • Left pad all currency fields with zeros. Do not put the zeros at the end of your data
      • Do not place any decimal points in any amount field
      • Make sure there are no extra blank lines
       
  • Always use the UCMS File Checker Program to ensure that your files upload correctly and to reduce failures or inaccuracies. Access the current version of the File Checker Program at UCMS File Checker found at http://www.portal.state.pa.us/portal/server.pt/community/uc_management_system/18222.

UCMS Profile Maintenance Reference Guide

Changing your demographic, ownership and TPA information is easily done using the Employer Profile portal in UCMS.
  1. Access www.paucemployers.state.pa.us or click on the UCMS logo logo found on the L&I Home Page www.dli.state.pa.us to access the UCMS Log In Page and log in.
     
  2. From the Navigation Menu select "Employer Profile," found at the top of the menu.
     
  3. To add or update under Employer Profile:
     
    Profile Maintenance:
     
    • Summary - This page offers a quick glance at your contact information. You can select "Edit Profile" to make changes or click on a particular tab to update information. If you need to inactivate your account, select "Close Account" under "Account Status."
    • Name - Changes can only be made to the Trade Name. If the Legal Name is incorrect or has changed, you need to contact us at the telephone number listed below. If the business structure has changed, you need to complete a new PA-100 Enterprise Registration Form.
    • Addresses - You can record street, mailing, statement of account and records addresses.
    • Telephone - You can list three telephone numbers - business, fax and mobile.
    • Email - You can provide an email for electronic correspondence, if desired.
    • Contacts - You can provide as many contacts as you like, including telephone numbers.
    • Preferences - Choose the way you prefer for us to send you information - email or U.S. mail. If selecting email, an email address must be provided or correspondence will continue to be sent via U.S. mail.
     
    Organization:
     
    • Structure - If any of the information is incorrect, please contact us at the number listed below.
    • Owners/Responsible Parties - Here you can update ownership information.
Manage Representatives:
- Add or change your TPA.
If you have questions or need assistance, please call the UC Employer Contact Center at 866-403-6163, or within the Harrisburg area at 717-787-7679, between the hours of 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Eastern Standard Time.
 
UC Issues Update is published by the Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry on a quarterly basis. Questions, comments and feedback can be sent via email to uc-news@pa.gov. General UC Tax information is available by calling 717-787-7679 or outside of the Harrisburg area, toll free 866-403-6163 from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. If you have questions regarding UC benefit charges to your account, please call 717-787-4677 from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. If you suspect fraud, report it online at www.uc.pa.gov by clicking "Report Fraud," or contact 800-692-7469.
 
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