There is confusion among Utah Department of Employment Security employees about how to determine who is legally eligible for unemployment benefits. The State Industrial Commission is addressing the problem.

Lee Hynek, unemployment insurance program specialist for the department, said some department employees are allowing employers to buy out the period of time between when a termination notice is given by the employee and when the termination takes effect.Some employers have been "buying out" their employees' vacation time so they actually left the company on the same date their termination notice was submitted, not two weeks later when the employee wanted to leave.

For example, if an employee gives a termination notice March 2 and intends to leave the company March 16, some employers have been buying out the accumulated vacation time. Because the employee didn't get to the March 16 date, the situation is called a discharge under the new rule and the employer is liable to pay unemployment benefits.

Under the new rule, the employer can buy out the March 2-16 period at the person's regular salary but still will be liable to pay for the accumulated vacation time.

Hynek said determining when a situation is a "quit" or "discharge" is important because only in cases where there is "cause" for a person to resign will unemployment benefits be awarded.