Letters of Reasonable Assurance (LRAs) can be the best line of defense when fighting unemployment claims that may arise during regularly scheduled holiday breaks.
All employees, including college and school district employees assigned to educational cooperatives (i.e., adult and special education) and substitutes, are entitled to file a claim for unemployment benefits with the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) upon separation from employment. TWC treats employees filing unemployment claims on breaks as laid off since this is a temporary work stoppage, although the employee has not been fired or quit work. As a result, employees may be able to file for benefits during a scheduled break (summer vacation, winter break, Thanksgiving, spring break, etc.).
Minimizing Claims Cost
Employees cannot receive unemployment benefits chargeable to a college or school district if the employer can prove the employee received notice of the expectation to return to work. The LRA demonstrates that the employer provided notice of a reasonable expectation the worker would return to work after the scheduled break.
The LRA is not a guarantee of future employment or a contract; it is a statement that there is a reasonable expectation that, at the present time, a position will be available when school resumes. Professional employees who receive a contract for the following year are assured of continued employment by the contract. Therefore, an LRA is not necessary for employees who are designated as contract employees.
LRAs should be issued in early spring to all noncontract employees who work less than 12 months and to anyone who may have an unpaid break. The signed forms should be kept on file and attached as documentation when responding to unemployment claims occurring during holiday breaks.
A Sample Letter of Reasonable Assurance is provided in the HR Library (member login required). This letter can be used for noncontract and substitute employees.
Issuing LRAs to noncontract personnel, including substitutes, is a loss-control tool that saves unemployment benefit dollars and administration time in processing and paying unnecessary unemployment claims. Ultimately, such notice may help the employer lower its annual budget for unemployment compensation costs and prevent claims that may arise due to holiday breaks.
Lauren Wurman joined the HR Services team as an HR and compensation consultant in 2023. She assists with compensation plan development, training, and other HR projects. Prior to TASB, Wurman spent 18 years working in education. Most recently, she was the executive director of human resources for a Texas public school district.
Wurman holds a bachelor’s degree in music education from the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music and a master’s degree in educational administration from the University of North Texas. She also has a pHCLE certification.
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