'Right to steal' response takes effect



Published:

>The consequences for stealing $500 or less at work have been made tougher for employees, at least when it comes to unemployment compensation.The bill, which went into affect on Sept. 11, was a reaction to the so-called "right to steal" bill passed a few years ago. That bill changed the definition of gross misconduct, replacing the vague term "dishonesty" (usually interpreted to mean theft) with "theft greater than $500," a felony on the par with other grounds for gross misconduct like arson and assault.A worked fired for any misconduct can't collect benefits, but those fired because of gross misconduct have their work history wiped clean, making it difficult to collect full benefits after being laid off from a subsequent job.Conservative critics afterward argued that this gave workers a right to steal $499, while defenders of the change argue that those calling in sick to take care of a sick mother would technically be stealing from an employer and needed to be cut some slack.The new compromise law now in effect reduces the threshold for gross misconduct to $250 or less, but gives the Department of Employment Security some discretion when the theft is less than $250 but greater than $100. The agency will now be able to erase as few as four weeks and as many as 26 weeks of an employee's work history. -- BOB SANDERS/NEW HAMPSHIRE BUSINESS REVIEW

 

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