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States Reinstate Work Search Requirements For Unemployment Benefits

Updated : August 5th, 2020

With $600 weekly benefits scheduled to end in the next few days, millions of unemployed Americans are devastated and are looking for ways to meet their needs in a crisis. To add more, some states are reinstating work search requirements, making it hard to qualify for Unemployment Insurance (UI) benefits. 

States have the work search requirement in normal times, but some states temporarily suspended the requirement due to the pandemic. But recently, states like Missouri, Arkansas, and Nebraska have reinstated the work search requirement.  

Here, let us look at the date of the effectiveness of the work search requirement in the above-listed states and allowed work search activities in the respective state.

Work Search Requirements In Missouri 

The state had waived the work search requirement in April when several businesses were forced to shut down due to the pandemic’s spread. But now that businesses have reopened, the Missouri Department of Labor and Industrial Relations has reinstated the requirement. 

The work search requirement took effect from July 5 in the state. “Missourians filing a claim will have to complete the state-defined work search activities minimum 3 times each week they make a payment request,” the Department said.

Work search requirements are required for various programs, including traditional Unemployment Insurance, Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), and Extended Benefits (EB).

Allowed Work Search Activities

Work search requirements can be met in various ways. Some of them include: 

  1. Searching and accessing employment on MoJobs.gov website
  2. Considering and responding to a work referral by Missouri Job Center 
  3. Completing a paper application for a job
  4. Attending job interview(s)
  5. Participating in job fair(s)
  6. Contacting employer(s) regarding job openings
  7. Creating a reemployment plan
  8. Attending virtual job interviews
  9. Creating a personal profile on various job posting and networking websites like Monster, LinkedIn, Craig’s List, Indeed, etc.

The self-employed or others qualified for PUA can meet the work search requirement by any of the above-listed methods. Additionally, the self-employed can meet work search activities by:

  • Client Contacts
  • Participating in training programs
  • Advertising
  • Submitting proposals or bids 

Exemptions

There are work search exemptions for some claimants. Individuals who have been laid off and have a recall date, are in approved training or are on the Shared Work program will not need to submit work search activities. 

Note that your work search activity must be up to date and be recorded in uinteract.labor.mo.gov. You can enter the details during the same week or when filing your weekly payment request.  

To submit the details, log in to your account and choose “Weekly Request for Payment.” Select “Enter Work Search Details,” enter the details and click the “Save” button. 

Note – if you fail to submit 3 work search activities, your claim may be denied. So make sure you update the details regularly. 

Work Search Requirements In Arkansas

In the wake of the pandemic-induced economic shutdown, the Arkansas Division of Workforce Services (DWS) had waived the work search requirement in March. However, lately, the DWS has announced that beginning June 28, Arkansasians must submit work search activities to continue to receive unemployment benefits. 

As part of the work search requirement, the claimants must make 2 or 3 job contacts per week, depending on where they live in the state.

For instance, claimants living in larger metropolitan areas like Benton, Craighead, Faulkner, Garland, Jefferson, Lincoln, Madison, Perry, Poinsett, Sebastian, Washington, etc. counties should make3 job contacts per week. Claimants living in rural areas must make 2 contacts per week.

Not only the regular unemployment benefits, the work-search requirement also applies to those receiving benefits through the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program, except for the self-employed. 

Claimants receiving Extended Benefits (EB) include enhanced work-search requirements. They must make 3 or 4 job contacts weekly, depending on where they live in the state. For instance, those living in the above-listed metropolitan statistical areas must make 4 job contacts each week, and those in rural areas should make 3 contacts.

Allowed Work Search Requirements

One can meet the state’s work search requirements in many ways. Some of them include:

  1. Registering with DWS Employment Services
  2. Attending job search workshops
  3. Looking for jobs online

Those claiming EB have enhanced work search requirements. They must provide a written work contacts log each week to continue to receive benefits. 

Self-employed who claim benefits through PUA need not make job contacts but must participate in activities designed to resume their self-employment.

Exemptions

Some claimants can receive work search exemptions. For instance, individuals with return-to-work dates within 10 weeks from the initial of the date an unemployment claim can get exempt from the work search requirement. 

To receive the work-search exemption, individuals must give DWS a written letter from their employer. The letter should include the individual’s name, last day of work, the last 4 digits of the individual’s Social Security number, and the rejoining date. Individuals can send an Email or deliver the letter to either the local DWS office or DWS’s main office.

Individuals collecting partial unemployment can be exempted from the work search requirement, provided their work hours have been reduced (full-time to part-time), and the individual works a minimum of 8 hours per week.

Work Search Requirements In Nebraska 

The Nebraska Department of Labor (NDOL) had waived the work search requirement in March to encourage more Nebraskaians to collect unemployment benefits. However, with businesses reopening across the state, NDOL has announced individuals must meet the work search requirement starting the week of July 12. 

As a part of the requirement, claimants are required to perform and submit work search activities each week to continue to receive benefits.

Work search activities are required for those receiving benefits through regular Unemployment Insurance, Extended Benefits (EB), and Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA). 

Allowed Work Search Requirements

NDOL officials have listed qualified work search activities in the state. Some of them include:

  • Meeting with a career counselor or job coach  
  • Completing an online or in-face application with an employer
  • Searching for a work using online job portals or banks
  • Participating in a workshop or job skills class 

Exemptions 

The state provides work search requirement exemptions to some claimants. For instance, individuals attending approved training, individuals part of a Short-Time Compensation program, or are union members with a hiring hall. Individuals with an employer confirmed rejoining date within 112 days of their layoff are also exempted from the work search requirement. 

Note – 

NDOL wants unemployed workers to report work refusals and earnings (including Paycheck Protection Program) when filing a weekly claim.

Final Words 

If you live in Missouri or Arkansas, or Nebraska make sure you report the work search activities to continue to qualify for benefits. If you fail to report, your claim may be considered as fraud, and you could be subjected to criminal prosecution and fines.

For more details on your state’s work search requirements and job opportunities, visit your Department’s website.

 

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