Northeast Hearth, Patio and Barbecue Association Blog

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MA Employers Have Short Window to Challenge Unemployment Charges

20 August 2020

Associated Industries of Massachusetts today alerted members to keep an eye out for their unemployment benefit charge statements for the month of July 2020 and to file any protests to those charges within 30 days.

According to the Massachusetts Department of Unemployment Assistance (DUA) all COVID-19 related benefit credits will be reflected on the July 2020 Benefit Charge Statement. Employers are asked to wait until they have received these charges to initiate claims protests.  Currently, employers have 30 days from the date of their July statement to protest any claims through the DUA.

AIM has been fielding questions from employers who received charges for the consecutive months of March, April, May, and June as well, but we have been informed that the July 2020 statements will be most relevant and up to date.

According to the federal CARES Act, reimbursing employers (those who pay into the system on a per-claim basis versus contributory employers who pay through a traditional payroll tax) are liable for 50 percent of their COVID-19 related unemployment charges. The same legislation shields contributory employers paying into the system through payroll taxes from covering COVID-19 claims by charging them to each state’s Unemployment Insurance (UI) Trust Fund. State legislation passed into law this May allows reimbursing employers in Massachusetts 120 days from the date on their July statement to complete payment on the UI charges made to their accounts.

Although contributory employers are not liable for COVID-19 claims, AIM encourages all employers to thoroughly review their benefit charge statements and to protest any incorrect charges they see.

The state’s employers ultimately fund the UI Trust Fund, which has been bearing the brunt of an unprecedented surge in unemployment claims since March.

According to the Massachusetts Trust Fund Outlook Report from May 2020, the status of the Fund will become insolvent into 2024, at least, especially if the federal government takes no further action. The Fund is expected to be in the red by $3 billion at the end of this year, $6 billion at the end of 2021 and 2022, and insolvent still by about $5.22 billion at the end of 2024.

The same report indicates employer contributions stand to increase by $6 million in Fiscal Year 2021 through automatic employer rate increases that are based on the Fund’s overall financial condition. Massachusetts remains a state with one of the highest unemployment rates in the nation.

Employers currently have only 30 days to file all benefit charge protests. Due to the influx of claims related to COVID-19, protests must be submitted online through an employer’s individual UI Account by logging in and selecting “Benefit Charge Activity,” followed by “Benefit Charge Protest.”

In order to file a successful protest, employers must have access to the claimant’s full name and Social Security Number. The employer must complete all fields marked with a red asterisk and enter the reasons for protesting in the available text box while leaving the “Mail Date,” and “Document ID” fields blank.

The “Last Day Worked” entered in the protest must match the last day reported by the claimant whose benefits charges are being protested. In order to access this information through the DUA, employers are directed to email the Department at EmployerCharge@detma.org with “Last Day Worked Inquiry” specified in the subject line of their email.

Reimbursing employers are asked to email UIEmployerReports@detma.org with any additional questions. All other inquiries and concerns are again directed to EmployerCharge@detma.org.

The DUA has additionally made the following resources available for employers seeking to understand their UI responsibilities:

AIM has continued to advocate on the federal level for direct, immediate financial relief to state UI Trust Funds and additional forgiveness for non-profits and reimbursing employers who are still liable for 50 percent of their UI bills.

To read more about the condition of the UI Trust Fund and AIM’s comments to the Globe, please click here (paywall). 

To access additional AIM guidelines and resources on how to protect your business from unemployment insurance fraud, please see our previous UI blog post – Be On Alert for National Unemployment Insurance Scam 


Widespread Power Outages Across New England Highlight Importance of Energy Diversity

6 August 2020

August 6, 2020


NEHPBA: Preserving access to natural gas and other fuel sources is critical for emergency readiness in major weather events

Sudbury, MA – The Northeast Hearth, Patio and Barbecue Association today said that widespread power outages being experienced across New England highlight the critical nature of energy diversity and the risks of over-dependence on electric power for household and commercial heating, cooking and cooling.

More than 220,000 households were without power in Massachusetts following Tropical Storm Isaias late Tuesday night, while approximately 50,000 lost power in New Hampshire. Rhode Island reported over 100,000 households without power after the storm, and a staggering 700,000 homes were still without power Thursday morning across Connecticut, leaving work crews scrambling to restore service and state officials furious at utility response times.

“Tropical Storm Isaias is a summer weather event, but it’s a vivid illustration of how huge sections of the power grid can be knocked out in a matter of minutes at any time of the year,” said Joel Etter, President of NEHPBA and Senior Wholesale Account Manager for Hearth & Home Technologies. “Winter Nor’easters, blizzards and ice storms are something we are all too familiar with in New England. When the grid goes down in those conditions, over-reliance on electric power can be dangerous.”

NEHPBA is part of a cross-section of industry associations and advocates fighting to maintain energy diversity in the marketplace – as special interests support initiatives to ban natural gas, complicate regulations around propane and wood-burning fuel products and limit choices for home-heating systems. The industry is working together with other businesses as well as consumers to ensure natural gas continues to be available in New England and the Northeast as part of a complete range of energy choices.

Banning new natural gas connections or curbing existing use dramatically will hurt Americans when costs of living are already high. The over-reliance on electric power for heating and cooking exposes households to higher risks when major weather events knock out the grid.“New England households need diverse energy choices to maintain financial stability, and to protect families when the region’s electric power infrastructure sustains massive failure– as we are seeing today,” said Karen Luther, Executive Director of NEHPBA. “It happens in the summer and it happens in winter. It happened this week and it will happen again.”

About the Northeast Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association

Since 1985, the Northeast Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association (NEHPBA) has represented the interests of the hearth industry in the Northeast.  NEHPBA was originally incorporated in January 1985 as the Northeast Solid Fuel Alliance (NESFA) in recognition of the unique demands of business in the Northeast. In June of 1992, NESFA members voted to become the first affiliated member of the national Hearth Products Association (HPA) and became the Northeast Hearth Products Association (NEHPA). In 2002, NEHPA became the Northeast Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association (NEHPBA) in conjunction with the merger of the national HPA with the Barbecue Industry Association to become the Hearth, Patio & Barbecue Association (HPBA), thus recognizing the diversification of the modern industry.  The NEHPBA name has remained since 2002.

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