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Oklahoma to Resume Charging Employers for Unemployment Benefits

By July 21, 2021January 17th, 2022COVID-19, Tax Implications

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Oklahoma waived benefit charges for experience rated employers. This waiver expired June 30, 2021.  What does this mean for OK employers? Any eligible claim for unemployment benefits with an effective date after July 3, 2021 will result in a benefit wage charge at the 5th compensable week of unemployment.

The Oklahoma Employment Security Commission recently notified all Oklahoma employers that they were returning to pre-pandemic unemployment benefits and eligibility.  In addition to the eligibility requirements, Oklahoma experience rated employers will also start being charged for benefits for any claim filed after July 3, 2021. You do not need to take any actions. Thomas & Company will continue to monitor your claims and charge activity and take any actions necessary to protest any charges that are associated to your account prior to the waiver expiration.

The notice from OESC reads:

“On May 17, 2021, OESC announced the start of a Back to Work Initiative to address the labor shortage in Oklahoma as a result of the pandemic. Also included in this announcement was a return to pre-pandemic unemployment insurance benefits and eligibility, which was effective June 27, 2021. OESC wants to ensure that state employers are also aware that this change will impact the waiver of benefit wage charges for experience-rated employers with the expiration of the waiver on June 30, 2021, and the renewal of these charges.

End Date for Benefit Wage Charge Waiver

Any eligible claim for unemployment benefits with an effective date after July 3, 2021, (the last day in the week that includes the June 30 expiration date) will result in a benefit wage charge at the 5th compensable week of unemployment.

What are benefit wage charges?

If a claimant is allowed benefits based on the reason for separation from the most recent employment at the time an initial claim was filed, and a valid benefit year is established, a notice is mailed to each base period employer showing the amount of base period wages being charged. This form is titled “Notice of Benefit Wages” and is issued when benefits are paid to a claimant for the fifth week of unemployment in the benefit year. Benefit wage charges are the taxable base period wages reported by the employer to OESC that are used to determine a claimant’s eligibility to receive benefits. Benefit wage charges to an employer account are used in computing the employer’s annual contribution rate.

Which employers receive benefit wage charges?

The separating employer is the most recent employer for a claimant and is the source of the separation that triggers the claimant’s eligibility for unemployment benefits. The separating employer may receive benefit wage charges. Any other employers with taxable wages within the base period also receive benefit wage charges for wages within the base period.

Can benefit wage charges be protested?

Yes, employer protests can be submitted in response to each Notice of Benefit Wages letter an employer receives. The protest must be in writing and must give the basis of the protest and the circumstances of the claimant’s last separation from employment. Acceptable reasons for protest are included in the FAQ’s referenced below.

Find more information and FAQ’s on the Employers tab at the Oklahoma website.

As always, we will continue to monitor this situation and provide updates as they become available.  If there are any questions please do not hesitate to contact us or visit our website for the latest news and updates.


Josh Kendall

Author Josh Kendall

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