While national unemployment numbers remain at record lows some states have taken the opportunity to update their mandatory postings related to Unemployment Insurance. Missouri is one such state. The Missouri Department of Labor & Industrial Relations, through its Division of Unemployment Security has issued a new notice. The notice is one of the required Missouri labor law posters, updated as of November 2020, has all the information employees are required to know about their unemployment insurance rights and benefits. It is a mandatory posting for all employers that are subject to the Missouri Employment Security Law.  As we’ll discuss later, it also takes aim at making the system fairer to all.

Employees who have become unemployed, laid off, or underemployed can now apply for their unemployment benefits online or by telephone. Workers with an internet connection may visit uinteract.labor.mo.gov where they can set up a user account to file their initial claim. For those without internet connection there are four Regional claims Centers (Jefferson City, Kansas City, Springfield, and St. Louis) that they can call to assist them in filing a UI claim.

Two notable features of this new mandatory posting are the sections seeking to lessen abuse and fraud in the system. The poster illustrates two ways in which the unemployment insurance system can be defrauded and urges employees to keep an eye out for such behavior. Missouri employers pay taxes to cover Unemployment Insurance benefits, the program is not funded through deductions in pay from employees. Vigilance is key to ensuring the fairness and solvency of the system for many years to come.

An email (ReportUIFraud@labor.mo.gov) and a phone number (573-751-0057) are provided on the poster where you can report persons you believe are fraudulently collecting unemployment benefits.

Misclassifying employees as independent contractors is another way that the system can be gamed. Employees should be on the lookout for employers that misclassify workers. Missouri law is very clear in defining who is considered an employee and who an independent contractor. The new notice is clear: 

Businesses that improperly treat workers as independent contractors have an unfair competitive advantage. Improperly classified workers miss out on unemployment benefits, workers’ compensation coverage and employer tax contributions.

It goes on with a directive, “If you think you may be improperly classified or suspect a business of improperly classifying workers, visit labor.mo.gov/offthebooks or call 573-751-1099.”The English poster also contains text on the bottom for Spanish speakers notifying them of the availability of translation services and the number to call if they need that. Other auxiliary aids and services are available upon request from the Missouri Division of Employment Security for individuals with disabilities.