Businesses say work-search requirement may help hiring difficulties

LEXINGTON, Ky. (WTVQ) – The return of the work-search requirement for unemployment benefits has been expected as the state and national economy continue to show signs of rebounding.

And the business community voiced support for the state’s decision, which was announced Thursday, as a way to encourage people to return to the work force.

In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the requirement that an individual must be searching for work in order to receive unemployment benefits was temporarily turned off. But now, a year later, it will be reinstated as Kentuckians are being vaccinated and the state looks to get people back to work.

Starting May 9, individuals seeking benefits will need to report to the state they have made at least one contact per week about a job in order to receive bi-weekly benefits.

This is a normal part of the unemployment insurance system outside of the pandemic and many other states are taking the same steps in recent months.

Outside of some exceptions, out-of-work Kentuckians will need to report specific information about where they’ve tried to find full-time work to be considered eligible for benefits including the name of the business, job title, name and title of the person contacted, date of contact, and whether the correspondence was over phone, email, etc.

“The Kentucky Chamber supports turning on the Work Search Requirement. Kentuckians returning to work is a vital step to recovering our economy and ensuring our citizens’ health, well-being, and future prosperity. For Kentuckians entering a job search, the Kentucky Chamber provides a list with over 95,000 positions currently available across the state on the ‘Who’s Hiring’ page of our website,” said Beth Davisson, Kentucky Chamber Vice President of Workforce Development.

Businesses statewide have had difficulty filling positions and some say the continued unemployment benefitsd, especially federal financial supplements, were hurting recruitment efforts as potential workers stayed out of the labor pool.

The work-search requirement may change that.

Amy Cubbage, general counsel for Beshear, announced the move during the governor’s coronavirus briefing Thursday.

Unemployment claimants will be required to seek suitable full-time employment and report at least one job contact per week.

It is recommended that claimants keep a record of all of their job contacts, including the name of the business, the title of the position, the name/title of the person contacted, the date of the contact and the method of contact (phone, email, address, etc.).

Claimants will be required to provide these details during their bi-weekly benefit requests.

“You are allowed a reasonable period of time to find work that is comparable in pay and skill level to your most recent employment. If you are not able to find comparable work after a reasonable period of time, or if that type of work is not available in your area, you must adjust your work search,” Cubbage said.

Claimants will not be required to conduct a job search if they:

•           Are members of a trade union that finds work for them;

•           Are students in an approved training program;

•           Have a definite recall date within 12 weeks of their initial claim filing date;

•           Are on a temporary leave of absence while still considered an employee; or

•           Know their employer filed a mass electronic claim (E-Claim) on their behalf.

More information on work search requirements is available at kcc.ky.gov.

In other unemployment updates, Cubbage said more than 4,400 in-person appointments have been scheduled for unemployment insurance assistance at 13 regional Kentucky Career Centers.

New appointments are available each night at midnight Monday through Friday. Cubbage said if Kentuckians have an in-person appointment, they should bring two forms of ID with them.

The website kcc.ky.gov, under “unemployment services,” lists what identification documents are acceptable.

In addition, the process of resetting PINs remains busy, Cubbage said.

“Over the last two weeks, we have assisted more than 37,000 claimants with their PINs and with registering in the updated UI system on our Help Line, 502-564-2900. To date, more than 102,000 people have registered in the UI system,” Cubbage said.

Unemployment insurance specialists will begin assisting people with their claim issues again April 26. The UI Help Line phone menu will be updated for PIN reset and registration assistance and claim assistance.

The hours for the UI Help Line effective next week are Monday through Friday 8 a.m. through 4:30 p.m. EST.

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