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      RS 23:1604     


§1604. Self-employment assistance program

            A. Definitions. The following terms shall have the definitions ascribed in this Section unless the context indicates otherwise:

            (1) "Regular benefits" means benefits payable to an individual under this Chapter, including benefits payable to federal civilian employees and to former members of the United States armed forces pursuant to 5 USC, Chapter 85, other than additional benefits, extended benefits, and extended benefits for dislocated workers. Individuals who have exhausted regular unemployment compensation are ineligible for self-employment assistance allowances. Individuals may not receive self-employment assistance allowances in lieu of federal-state extended benefits, additional benefits entirely financed by the state, any wholly funded federal extension of unemployment compensation, or other types of compensation not meeting the definition of regular unemployment compensation.

            (2) "Secretary" means the secretary of the Louisiana Workforce Commission.

            (3) "Self-employment assistance activities" means activities approved by the secretary in which an individual participates for the purpose of establishing a business and becoming self-employed. "Self-employment assistance activities" must include but are not limited to entrepreneurial training, business counseling, and technical assistance. If these activities are not available, an individual pursuing self-employment will not be eligible for self-employment assistance allowances.

            (4) "Self-employment assistance allowance" means an allowance payable, in lieu of regular benefits, from the unemployment compensation fund to an individual who meets the requirements of this Section.

            (5) "Self-employment assistance program" means a program under which an individual who meets the requirements described in Subsection D of this Section is eligible to receive an allowance in lieu of regular benefits for the purpose of assisting that individual in establishing a business and becoming self-employed.

            B. Weekly amount of self-employment assistance allowance. The weekly amount of a self-employment assistance allowance payable to an individual under this Section is equal to the weekly benefit amount for regular benefits otherwise payable under R.S. 23:1592.

            C. Maximum amount of benefits. The sum of the self-employment assistance allowances paid under this Section and regular benefits paid under this Chapter may not exceed the maximum amount of benefits established under R.S. 23:1592 with respect to any benefit year.

            D. Eligibility. The following eligibility requirements apply to the payment of a self-employment assistance allowance under this Section.

            (1) An individual may receive self-employment assistance if that individual meets all of the following conditions:

            (a) Is eligible to receive regular benefits or would be eligible to receive regular benefits except for the requirements described in Paragraph (2) of this Subsection.

            (b) Is identified by a worker profiling system as an individual likely to exhaust regular benefits.

            (c) Has filed an application for participation in a self-employment assistance program and has provided the information the secretary may prescribe.

            (d) Has, at the time the application is filed, a balance of regular benefits equal to at least eighteen times the individual's weekly benefits amount and at least eighteen weeks remaining in the individual's benefit year.

            (e) Has been accepted into a program approved by the secretary that will provide self-employment assistance activities.

            (f) Is participating in self-employment assistance activities.

            (g) Is actively engaged on a full-time basis in activities, which may include training, related to establishing a business and becoming self-employed.

            (2) A self-employment assistance allowance is payable to an individual at the same interval, on the same terms, and subject to the same conditions as regular benefits except that:

            (a) The requirements relating to availability for work, active search for work, and refusal to accept work shall not apply to any week that the individual is in training or engaged in self-employment activities as approved by this Section.

            (b) Income earned by an individual while engaged in self-employment activities as approved under this Section shall not be construed to be wages or compensation for personal services under this Chapter, and benefits payable under this Chapter shall not be denied or reduced because of those payments.

            (c) An individual who fails to participate in self-employment assistance activities or who fails to actively engage on a full-time basis in activities, which may include training, related to establishing a business and becoming self-employed is denied benefits for the week the failure occurs.

            (d) Individuals who are terminated from or voluntarily leave the program may receive, if otherwise eligible, regular benefits with respect to the benefit year, provided that the sum of regular benefits paid and self-employment allowances paid with respect to the benefit year shall not exceed the maximum amount payable for the benefit year.

            E. Limitation on number of individuals receiving a self-employment assistance allowance. The aggregate number of individuals receiving a self-employment assistance allowance at any time may not exceed five percent of the number of individuals receiving regular benefits at that time.

            F. Financing costs of a self-employment assistance allowance. Notwithstanding any provision of law to the contrary, for the purposes of R.S. 23:1536, any benefits paid to individuals who are in the Self-Employment Assistance Program with the approval of the administrator shall not be charged to the experience rating record of base period employers.

            G. Appeal of nonacceptance into a self-employment assistance program. All determinations under this Section shall be appealed and heard in the same manner as provided for regular unemployment compensation benefits.

            H. Adopt rules. The secretary may adopt rules in accordance with the Administrative Procedure Act to implement a self-employment assistance program, including but not limited to criteria for approval of programs that provide self-employment assistance activities, eligibility criteria for acceptance into and participation in these programs, and the review and appeal process for determinations of individual eligibility for these programs.

            I. Report. Annually by February first, the secretary shall report to the House and Senate Committees on Labor and Industrial Relations. This report must include data on the number of individuals participating in the program and the number of businesses developed under the program, business survival data, the cost of operating the program, compliance with program requirements and data related to business income, the number of employees and wages paid in the new businesses, and the incidence and duration of unemployment after business start-up. The report may also include any recommended changes in the program.

            Acts 2004, No. 898, §1, eff. Jan. 1, 2005; Acts 2008, No. 743, §7, eff. July 1, 2008.

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