A new South Carolina law significantly changes the outcome for employees terminated for misconduct. The new law clarifies the definition of "misconduct" under which state-provided benefits may be denied. If an employee is found to have been terminated due to misconduct, he or she will be deemed ineligible to collect unemployment for the full 20 weeks of benefits provided by South Carolina, as opposed to a discretionary period of time determined by the South Carolina Department of Education and Workforce.
The recently signed bill also clarifies the definition of misconduct, bringing it into line with federal unemployment standards. It includes willful and wanton disregard of employer interests, but excludes insufficient work performance. For discharges that do not rise to the level of misconduct, SCDEW will retain discretion over the benefits paid to the terminated employee.
Like many states, South Carolina is struggling with a large debt to the federal government based on unemployment insurance benefits. The new bill is expected to make a small dent in such future benefit payments by excluding certain persons from receiving benefits in the first place.