Wisconsin Unemployment Waiting Period – A Hidden Provision by Governor Walker

Taxation Without RepresentationIf you’re a seasonal worker in Wisconsin and have filed for unemployment insurance benefits in 2012, you may or may not have received the startling news that you will not be receiving the first payment for your 2012 unemployment benefit period.  This is because effective January 01, 2012 there is now what is referred to as the “unemployment waiting period” which essentially withholds the first payment for Wisconsin workers who file for unemployment benefits.

The unemployment waiting period is a provision that is supposed to help curtail the unemployment deficit in Wisconsin. The Department of Workforce Development estimates that workers will lose between $41 million to $56 million in unemployment benefits due to the waiting period.  Wisconsin is not the only state that has rising unemployment costs which create huge deficits in the budget, and relief funds from the federal level have all but been exhausted.  Do other states rob benefits from their workers?

It is becoming apparent that Wisconsin workers have taken a giant step backwards under provisions included in WI Act 32, the Wisconsin State Budget covering the period of July 1, 2011 through June 30, 2013.  The “unemployment waiting period” is clearly a hidden provision by Governor Walker.  Despite a veto request by all labor and management representatives on the Unemployment Insurance Advisory Council, Governor Walker still signed the provision into law. For many decades the Advisory Council made changes to unemployment benefits through a balanced, negotiated agreement involving employers and labor, but Walker simply side-stepped the process in an effort to balance the budget.


What Does This Mean For Wisconsin Seasonal Workers?

The extreme cuts made in the budget are just starting to rear their ugly heads, decimating middle class workers who are already in a financial tight spot due to decreased work, layoff, or recent job loss.

As an employee for reputable Waukesha roofing company my work is seasonal, but I often work throughout the winter months.  In many instances inclimate weather hinders our ability to perform our job and we must file an unemployment claim here and there.  Like masons, carpenters, and other seasonal workers, roofers usually don’t have long periods of layoff during winter months, and in most cases layoffs are intermittent because we are able to work once the bad weather passes.  (It is worthy to note that because winter makes roofing harder to perform, we already earn fewer wages because our pay is production-based and production is much, much slower.)  For example, in 2011 I claimed unemployment for a total of four weeks between December and April, and I was still eligible to claim 22 more weeks of unemployment.


Wisconsin Businesses Pay in to Unemployment Insurance.

If you’re like me you are probably wondering why, when a person such as me works 45 weeks out of the year, my first week of unemployment benefits is withheld despite the fact that my employer pays the state for my unemployment insurance coverage?  It only begs the question as to how Wisconsin, through legislative fiat, can legally deprive an individual of an insurance benefit that has already been paid by the employer.  Does this somehow equate to taxation without representation?


There is a Solution.

The unemployment deficit in Wisconsin was created because the state extended benefits to individuals who lost their jobs during the economic recession and their benefits ultimately ran dry.  I have empathy for people who lost their job and have families and children to support and feed, but… Allowing extended unemployment insurance benefits to go on endlessly is not right.  In my opinion individuals who receive or have been receiving extended unemployment insurance benefits should be the candidates that forfeit a week of benefits.  Essentially they are receiving payments, not from insurance benefits paid by their employer, but from funds generated through other businesses, companies, and federal funding.

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23 Responses to Wisconsin Unemployment Waiting Period – A Hidden Provision by Governor Walker

  • I feel bad for the honest, hard working seasonal worker that has to wait. I know people receiving unemployment for a long, long time. They(some) don’t even look for work!

  • Hey Bill!
    Thanks for stopping by and voicing your opinion.
    I always value your insight on things, and as it turns out you know individuals who are the epitome of why this state faces huge deficits in their unemployment insurance.
    Strength in numbers my friend. Strength in numbers…

  • way to go Walker ! you screw some people that barely make it the way it is, why punish people that are working and get laid off 1 or 2 weeks a year ??? if Walker is making more then 50,000 a year he is over paid thief !!! kiss my @$$ !!! i hope you hurt some day too !!!

  • Scott, found this after a doing a google search. I filed for unemployment for the first time ever in my career last week, and have been completely dissheartened by the experience. I’m not the type to file for something I don’t need, especially in today’s economic climate – I don’t believe in creating an unnecessary burden on an already heavily burdened system. But after filing over a week ago today I was told finally that I have to have a case worker assigned because I was fired – but that will take up to 21 days. And then once they’re assigned I have to wait for the investigation period (which they refused to state how long that would take). And even then after that I will be withheld the first check as you describe. So after all is said and done we’re looking at sometime mid March before I recieve anything if I’m lucky. Point being the “unemployment waiting period” is far longer in this case than just the first payment.

    Pardon my language, but I find it’s just ass backwards here that I can go to get a gun with only a 2 day waiting period. I can also immediately walk around with it concealed with no training after those two days, but I have to wait over a month just to get something that could actually help me right now and even then can’t use it right away.

  • It really helps the families that struggle to make ends meet when they get layed off work. What about my house payment. When this helps to get me behind. Just want to say thanks for helping to feed my family and keep a roof over their heads.

  • same here. went to file and sure enough they wont be paying me for last week. paid in my whole life and when i deserve it i don’t receive it. does this horses ass really think people like him. same for entire republican party. chide an innocent woman and call her a slut for voicing her opinion to congress? where am i? do do / do do twilight zone. hey elephants, back to earth please. p.s. t-party what a joke!

    • It’s not Walkers fault you moron.. It’s Obama and the Dems who keep handing out cash for people to be lazy! Walker is just trying to fix what Obama messed up. If I have to give up a week of cash to help keep the state of WI strong I will. People always want something for nothing. Give up one week to keep WI strong financially is worth it to me!

  • I had a unemployment check stolen and cashed reported it then got a letter from Alyssa Lowry stating that the signatures were not the same I tried to get a hold of her and find out that her number was disconnected and trying to get through the unemployment number to find out about the check is impossible due to being to busy they say call back another time so what gives?

    • You just have to keep calling. I’ve found that the best time is early in the morning – just after they open.
      Sorry to hear that you’re having these problems…
      Good Luck

  • I have 3 kids and my wife stays at home. She is currently on bedrest with my forth child. 6,4 2,0
    My current income is $46,000 a year, and yes, boom, I lost my job overnight. Why in the heck would I want any money from the goverment. They owe me nothing. It is my responsibility to take care of my family. I have a new van, house payment, and every other bill you can imagine. So what am I going to do. Well, it looks like I am going to take a job that pays 16,000 dollars less then what I currently made. I will do this job the best I can, maybe work two jobs, spend as much time with my kids as I possibly can, and let my wife raise my kids instead of daycare. I thank God my family is healthy, that I am capable, and I look foward to the future. Andy

    • Andy:

      Thanks for voicing your opinion.
      Unemployment is not a per se government handout. The monies are provided from mandatory payments made by employers. In most cases the available funds for any given employer are rarely exhausted because employees are only laid off during periods of inclimate weather. If you chose not to utilize unemployment insurance during any period that you are unable to find work that is your right. However, you are entitled to it…

    • It is noble of you to try and not take assistance, but you will find that a 16K cut from 46K will not pay your bills. I suggest you file for SNAP food assistance immediately, as that can take pressure off your family at the grocery store, allowing you to continue to buy quality fresh produce and meats. I tried to live with my family of 6 on 28K, and I lost my house and was nearly evicted every month after I started renting. I wish you all the best, but you will struggle mightily on 30K

    • Andy, your post was so refreshing after reading the main article and the subsequent posts. I hear a lot of griping and complaining but you actually are looking at the possibilities of what you can do given the circumstance you are in. Do employees know that employers are currently paying much higher tax rates into unemployment to make up for the deficit in unemployment? By the way that deficit did not start in 2008. It has been building for years. The previous administration completely ignored the whole mess of Wisconsin’s entire debt. Unemployment was only one area that was out of control.

      Scott asked the question in his article is other states have a waiting week. He did not answer his own question so I will. NE, CA, KS, MO, OR, ID TN were just some of the states I cam across in my google search on this topic. It isn’t a “party” idea. It is an administrative idea that is put into play by administrations that take the debt their state is in seriously.

      Again, I want to commend Andy for his refreshing attitude. Unemployment used to be a temporary help. People often worked 2 or 3 jobs when their employment situation changed. I certainly have done that several times in my life.

      My husband and I have a small business that is probably going to close after 25 years. It isn’t a WI problem, it is a national problem. There is some work but not enough to keep our employees going. For a long time we have taken jobs that don’t even make money to keep our employees working. We still have business expenses that continue even if there isn’t much work. When things are tough everyone needs to give a little.

      I don’t like unemployment for what it has become. It is too big, goes on too long, and has poor oversight. If these programs were run from a local branch instead of through Madison, there probably wouldn’t be so many people staying on UI for as long as they are. Extending benefits certainly doesn’t encourage people to think outside the box either.

  • Employees have lost a GREAT deal of rights it seems of lately. I have worked nearly two years at Madison Medical Affiliates only to be asked to commute to back and forth from Milwaukee and Mequon, even though I do NOT have a vehicle. Their solution was to cut my hour from Full to Part time. I filled for UC only to find out about this “waiting week” pertaining to my benefits. the following week I was fired and I was told was “it was NOT working out” so now I have 5 days to contact a “Specialist” now due to the fact I had to indicate I was fired on my weekly claim. I suppose I will be given a new waiting week, the only thing will my sons wait to be feed?, will my house note wait to be paid?, will WeEnergies wait to be paid?

  • Totally ambushed and terminated Dec. 20th after NINE years of loyalty…I walked out the door with my last pay check…filed for UC Dec. 30th and was told they won’t fight the claim either. It is now Jan 17th and still no word or one dime from UC here in Wisconsin. If this is a safety net, I wonder what it would be like to fall through it??????

    • Hi Lizette:

      Sorry for the delay in getting to this comment – I’ve been swamped with other obligations and the such.
      I’m truly sorry to hear that you lost your job after 9 years and I hope everything works out for you.

    • Wow, that sucks. Get SNAP and Badgercare too.

  • The “waiting week” is popular in all states and wasn’t invented by Scott Walker. Nice try.

  • I have worked for many years, and have supported Governor Walker, but at times work is not so easy to find, especially a permanent position with benefits. The Wisconsin Economy has been damaged by companies offering W-2 Work (contract for usually a set term of 4 mos to a year without any benefits). When one has to rely on unemployment periodically, or when they are “under employed”, they are punished having to go a week without income. This is especially hard, unlike some people that do nothing but take advantage of the system and get all kinds of other benefits. I have no health insurance, food card, free daycare, or anything else. This should cease for those that are working, at least as much as we possibly can at this time. Go ahead balance the budget by punishing the lifelong takers, and not the ones that are hardworking, and put back into the system.

  • My husband has been a construction superintendent for 13 yrs. We have young children at home and since he travels to work, I am a full time mom. The past five years have seen a lay off at least once a year, spanning three companies now. We manage, try to put money aside when we can, but it’s difficult when we spend much of the year cleaning up the mess being laid off caused. This year he was offered a position with a company and one of their pitches to get him there was they hadn’t had any layoffs in 17 yrs. Well, as luck would have it, at the beginning of December he was, in fact, laid off temporarily. A month? Maybe two? they said.

    So he filed for unemployment just a few weeks before Christmas. The first response we had from them was that he wasn’t eligible because they only calculated his first six weeks of pay with this company when they chose his “eligibility year”. That was new. After a week of being on the phone, on hold, we finally got the word that he was eligible, so now we had to wait the “waiting week”. OK, so nearly three weeks after applying he finally received the first check on Christmas eve. Received the second the following week…then the new year arrived and guess what? A new waiting week. So six weeks on lay off and only half the unemployment compensation. Now his company has asked him to sit on a job site for a week (hurray!) but then he will be laid off again. So next week there will be no income again. At this point we have exhausted all the money we had set aside and are having to apply for food share just to keep food on the table until this ends, which REALLY sucks. So while this is saving money for the state in unemployment it is costing more in other programs, which we’d really rather not have to use at all. How can this possibly be successful?