New State Extension Comes with Stricter Job Search Requirements
On May 24, due to the high unemployment rate, Washington entered an 'Extended Benefits' (EB) period. Extended benefits adds up to 13 more weeks of benefits to qualifying claims. On June 7, due to an even higher unemployment rate, we transitioned into a high extended benefits period, which adds seven weeks to the original 13 weeks. Now, people who have exhausted their regular unemployment benefits and 'Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) can potentially get up to 20 weeks of extended benefits..
What Do Stricter Job Search Requirements Mean for Union Members?
For each week they claim for extended benefits, referral union members must make a total of four job search contacts. At least three of those job search contacts must be outside of the union each week.
- Union dispatch counts as one of the four required job search contacts for extended benefits.
- Members must:
- Log their job search activities.
- Provide those contacts when filing their weekly claims.
- The only exceptions are for members in compliance with union dispatch rules who either have:
- A recall or hire date within four weeks.
- An extremely favorable position on the out-of-work list.
What Kinds of Job Search Activities Should Members Do?
Members do not have to look for work that would jeopardize their union membership, but they must look for other work that they are capable of doing. Registering with another union local counts as one job search contact if the member is willing to accept work in that local's jurisdiction.
How Should Members Respond to Job Offers?
To continue receiving extended benefits, members must accept any job they're capable of doing unless:
- The position offered is vacant because of a labor dispute.
- It would require them to resign from or join a union.
- Gross wages for the job offer are less than
- The higher of your state's minimum wage or federal minimum wage.
- Their weekly benefit amount, plus any supplemental unemployment benefits they receive from their former employer.
What happens if members claim for a week when they did not meet job search requirements?
They will be denied extended benefits until they have both:
- Been employed during at least four weeks, starting after the week when they did not meet the job requirements.
- Earned four times their weekly benefit amount.
Members will need to inform the Employment Security Department if they fall into one of the two exceptions listed above.
The best way to inform them is to log into eServices and send them a message. You can also call the claims center, but higher call volumes may make it hard to get through. Call 800-318-6022. Normal hours are Monday through Friday from 8:00 a.m.. to 4:00 p.m. Check their website to see if they are offering extended hours: https://esd.wa.gov/unemployment/unemployed-workers-contact