Today, we continue our year-long series called Unemployment Vocabulary this week. If you do not work within the unemployment industry, some of the terminology utilized may be challenging to follow. It’s important to know the “lingo” to be sure that you understand what is going on within your company’s unemployment program. This week, we’re introducing “UI SIDES.”

UI SIDES, the Unemployment Insurance State Information Data Exchange System, is an electronic interface that allows for secure transmission of unemployment claim information between state agencies, the UI SIDES system and TPAs representing employers for unemployment claims management. This system was created as a result of a partnership between the U.S. Department of Labor and state workforce agencies. The goal of the program was to create a means whereby information exchanged between TPAs and state workforce agencies would be consistently more thorough and accurate, resulting in faster and better processing of unemployment claims. Currently, almost every state in the country has implemented a UI SIDES program.

To participate in UI SIDES each state and each TPA develops their own UI SIDES interface, which must work with the third party UI SIDES system that connects all of the states and TPAs to each other. All of these systems are tested thoroughly before they are allowed to “go live” with UI SIDES to ensure that each system works and additional testing is done every time a new state or a new TPA goes live with the system.

Aside from saving a lot of paper, the UI SIDES system has been a huge benefit to both TPAs and employers because unemployment claims are transmitted from the state to the TPA electronically on the same day. The result is that the days that were previously lost while a claim was being transported through the postal service are eliminated, allowing TPAs and the employers they represent much needed additional time to compile their documentation and response to each claim.

In addition to the electronic UI SIDES interface that TPAs use, there is a UI SIDES E-Response system designed for employers that are not represented by TPAs. This is a web based system that is in place for employers to use without the need for creating their own UI SIDES interface. It is important to understand that this is not the same as the UI SIDES system that TPAs use to exchange information with states, and an employer that does use the services of a TPA will cause claims to be misdirected if they sign up for the E-Response system. Employers that have TPA representation should not sign up for E-Response. Their TPA will handle their UI SIDES claims through their own interface.