6-23-20 TWC Unemployment News.tif

The Texas Workforce Commission announced June 16 that the work search requirements for Unemployment Insurance, which had been suspended due to the COVID-19 crisis, will be reinstated for all Texans receiving unemployment insurance benefits July 6.

Work search is a federal requirement to receive unemployment benefits. People will continue to receive benefits, but must document their efforts to find new employment, with the first report due to TWC on July 19.

Keep good records and save your work search documentation. Your work search efforts do not need to be sent in unless it is requested by the Commission.

Texas businesses are hiring right now. There are over 530,000 jobs available in Texas on WorkInTexas.com, the state’s online jobs portal, in addition to jobs available elsewhere. As more and more businesses come back online, those numbers should increase.

“The COVID-19 crisis has been difficult for everyone, creating new challenges for workers, employers and their families,” said Ed Serna, TWC Executive Director.

“Let me be clear: we are not over it. But we’re seeing employment opportunities begin to bounce back in Texas as our economy restarts. There are opportunities out there, and getting Texans back to work and businesses up and running again will create even more.”

Unemployment insurance benefits are not intended as a replacement for a job, but a temporary benefit to help workers until they can resume employment. The work search requirement does not mean workers must take the first job available.

It means that they must show an active effort to obtain new employment to continue benefits. As long as they do this, their benefits will continue for up to 39 weeks, in accordance with state law and the federal CARES Act.

Furloughed workers with a definite return to work date that is within 12 weeks of the layoff are exempt from work search requirements. Return to work dates beyond 12 weeks can result in the waiver of work search at the discretion of TWC.

While Self-employed individuals do not need to register on WorkinTexas.com nor complete work search requirements, they do however need to continue taking steps to reopen their business. If they do not plan to reopen their business, they must complete a work registration and seek work.

Job seekers are encourage to visit WorkInTexas.com, the state’s job portal, for access to hundreds of thousands of public and private sector jobs, as well as links to education and training opportunities, resume assistance and other resources. Guidelines for the work search process can be found online at www.twc.texas.gov/unemployment-benefits-work-search-guidelines.

The Commission also took action to provide guidance to unemployment claimants concerning their continued eligibility for unemployment insurance benefits should they refuse rehire.

Each UI benefits case is currently evaluated on an individual basis. However, because of the COVID-19 emergency, the following are reasons benefits would be granted if the individual refused suitable work.

Reason for refusal:

People 65 years or older, and/or people with medical issues, like heart disease, diabetes, cancer, or a weakened immune system, or are at a higher risk for getting very sick from COVID-19. (Source: DSHS website)

Household member at high risk – People 65 years or older or are at a higher risk of getting very sick from COVID-19 (source DSHS website).

Diagnosed with COVID - the individual has tested positive for COVID-19 by a source authorized by the State of Texas and is not recovered.

Family member with COVID - anybody in the household has tested positive for COVID-19 by a source authorized by the State of Texas and is not recovered and 14 days have not yet passed.

Quarantined – individual is currently in 14-day quarantine due to close contact exposure to COVID-19.

Child care – Child’s school or daycare closed and no reasonable alternatives are available.

Any other situation will be subject to a case by case review by the Texas Workforce Commission based on individual circumstances.

In a further effort to get Texans back to work, the Commission has allocated funds to offer rapid skills enhancement opportunities to eligible workers in Texas.

This new program includes all individuals receiving Unemployment Insurance benefits during COVID-19 and will provide access to virtual skills enhancement opportunities.

Texas has a historic number of UI beneficiaries as a result of COVID-19, which has resulted in an increased need for a range of services to support Texas businesses and workers, including the need to enhance the skills of unemployed Texans so they can prepare to reconnect to the workforce in valuable opportunities made available by Texas employers.

The Commission’s latest action in support of the Texas workforce will be implemented through partnerships with two Massive Open Online Course providers at the state level to provide skills enhancement opportunities to hundreds of thousands of unemployed workers in Texas.

Through this funding, TWC continues to demonstrate its commitment to addressing the needs of Texans during the COVID-19 pandemic.

If you are receiving unemployment insurance currently, have registered in WorkinTexas.com and interested in signing up for these online courses, send your name, phone number, and email address to: skillsenhancement@twc.texas.gov

The Texas Workforce Commission is a state agency dedicated to helping Texas employers, workers and communities prosper economically. For details on TWC and the services it offers in coordination with its network of local workforce development boards, call 512-463-8942 or visit www.texasworkforce.org.

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