Fairfax County Public Schools and the Unemployment Process
The Virginia Employment Commission (VEC) oversees and governs unemployment
What role does Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) play in the unemployment process?
The Virginia Employment Commission (VEC) oversees and governs unemployment and any decision around unemployment benefits. Just as claimants are required to report certain information to the VEC, including wages and work history, FCPS is also required to report similar information. The VEC is a state agency that is completely independent and separate from FCPS.
Who makes the decision(s) for unemployment benefits?
VEC makes any determinations regarding unemployment. The VEC notifies the employee and the employer of the findings via a “Notice of Deputy’s Determination” letter.
I filed for unemployment and was awarded money. Later I received a letter stating I was ineligible or disqualified and must repay the money. Why did I receive the money if I wasn’t eligible?
Due to the pandemic and the high volume of claims being submitted to the VEC, the VEC was directed to suspend their normal verification processes and pay claims. Under normal circumstances (non-pandemic), VEC would determine eligibility before paying any benefits. However, due to the pandemic, VEC paid many claims out, and then later determined those claims to be ineligible.
I have worked for FCPS over the summer for years. Why am I not eligible for unemployment benefits when FCPS did not have work for me this summer?
The law states that when you work for an education institution you generally do not qualify for unemployment during the summer recess when you have reasonable assurance of returning to your job. This applies to FCPS employees who are 10- or 11-month employees and who have worked for FCPS during the summer for years, even if you did not work this summer.
How do I know if I have reasonable assurance of returning to work after the summer break?
All employees who are less than 12-month employees have reasonable assurance of returning to work because such employment continues from one year to the next, unless some other action is taken. In other words, your employment continues – it is the default - unless some other action occurs.
Under what circumstances, if not the pandemic, would an employee who is less than a 12-month employee not have a reasonable assurance of returning to work?
FCPS employees who are less than 12-month employees, i.e. 10 or 11-month employees, continue employment from one school year to the next unless the employee 1) resigns, or 2) is dismissed, or 3) is furloughed, or 4) was hired as an hourly person for a one-year only position.
What information does FCPS provide to the VEC about my unemployment claim?
FCPS is required to provide VEC with information about an employee’s resignation or dismissal. For employees who are less than 12-month employees, the VEC requests, and FCPS is required to provide wages and work history information.
Do FCPS employees pay unemployment tax or pay into an unemployment fund?
No. Unemployment is paid by the employer (FCPS) not the employees. This is known as the Federal Unemployment Tax Act (FUTA).
What information does FCPS provide to the VEC?
FCPS is required by law to provide specific information to the Virginia Employment Commission (VEC) as requested. This information usually consists of work history and wages for any employee who files a claim. FCPS must also provide the reason for termination or resignation, when applicable.
APPEALING A VEC DECISION
I disagree with the unemployment decision, what should I do?
Refer to the instructions provided by the Virginia Unemployment Commission (VEC) regarding how to submit an appeal. The appeal is an opportunity to state why you disagree with their decision. The correspondence from the VEC includes instructions for filing an appeal.
When filing the appeal, the claimant needs to state the reason(s) they disagree with the VEC Deputy’s decision.
In addition, the VA legislature recently passed legislation that would allow waivers for repayments if the employee can show the unemployment benefit was used to cover basic necessities such as rent, food, childcare, etc. The law goes into effect July 1, 2021
How do I appeal a demand for repayment of benefits?
If you used the unemployment funds for basic necessities and it would cause a hardship to repay the money, share this information with the VEC in your appeal. Specifically, you are encouraged to show how the unemployment funds were used to cover basic necessities.
Please see the VEC webpage about the repayment appeal process for specific overpayments.
What if I already repaid the overpayment? Can I get my money back?
Please see House Bill 2040, for more information.
FCPS’ ROLE IN THE APPEAL HEARING
What role does FCPS play in the appeals hearing?
Both the claimant and employer can file an appeal if they disagree with the VEC Deputy’s determination. If FCPS files an appeal, the claimant is notified by the VEC. Likewise, if the claimant files an appeal then FCPS is notified. Both the claimant and employer (FCPS) are invited to attend the VEC appeals hearing.
The information that was used to make the decision is provided to the claimant and employer, including information that is supplied to the VEC by FCPS. The hearing examiner will ask specific questions of the employee and employer during the hearing and determine if the law was applied correctly when the Deputy’s determination was issued.
When does FCPS appeal VEC claims?
FCPS is a reimbursable employer. This means that FCPS is billed for all claims where the employee has been found “eligible” for unemployment. If FCPS believes the eligible finding was issued in error, then FCPS will appeal the VEC Deputy’s determination.
When FCPS is billed erroneously for claims, FCPS will appeal the claim because we do not believe we owe the money for the claims. This is different from appealing an individual’s eligibility determination.
VEC FRAUD & IDENTITY THEFT
What should I do if I think I am a victim of identity theft and believe an unemployment claim has been submitted in my name?
If you believe an unemployment claim was fraudulently filed in your name, please submit a fraudulent claim on the VEC website. Please go to this website and state that a fraudulent/identity theft claim was filed and that you did not file for unemployment.
Reach out to your local law enforcement agency to file a police report. Reports may be made directly to your School Resource Officer, if you work with one, made over the phone at 703-691-2131, or online at Financial Crimes Online Reporting (FiCOR) (fairfaxcounty.gov)
As an additional resource, the VEC recently announced that the US Department of Labor has launched a new website at www.dol.gov/fraud and www.dol.gov/fraud/es in Spanish, to help individuals, whose identities have been stolen and used fraudulently to file unemployment.
Contact Lori Gibson (firstname.lastname@example.org), EER Specialist, to inform her of a fraudulent report.