Do You Know How to Meet Your Work-Search Requirements While Receiving Unemployment Benefits?

People who receive unemployment insurance benefits must meet ongoing requirements while receiving benefits. One of those requirements is to make at least two work-search contacts each week, but not everyone understands how to meet this requirement.

Here are a few tips that will help you to meet the requirements and avoid having your claim for benefits denied.

The Top 10 Things You Need to Know

1. Actively look for work

Almost everyone collecting unemployment insurance benefits is required to actively look for work each week.

In very few cases, some people may not be required to look for work if they are scheduled to return to full-time employment soon, and they are considered to be job attached. Never assume you are job attached or are not required to look for work. If you think these situations may apply to you, please call a claim specialist at (208) 332-8942.

Unless you have specifically been told that you do not have to actively look for work, you are required to look for a full-time job. In fact, you are required to make two valid work search contacts each week you file a claim for unemployment benefits.

You MUST comply with the work-search requirements you agreed to when you completed your online application. These requirements can be viewed, and verified, online at our Claimant Portal. Log in to your account at labor.idaho.gov/claimantportal, and then go to Manage Claims to view this information.

2. Seasonal jobs

Seasonal employees are people who work in industries where short layoffs, or a reduction of hours, are expected at a certain time every year. These employees could be considered to be job attached if they have a definite return-to-work date and are expected to return to work within 16 weeks. Job attached designations for seasonal workers are limited to 16 weeks of reduced hours or scheduled layoff. This is applied statewide – with no exceptions to the rule. Please note, if you are considered to be job attached, this is usually specifically stated on your online application for unemployment benefits.

If claimants do not have a definite return-to-work date that is within 16 weeks of their layoff, or reduction in hours, they must look for work. We aren’t saying you can’t go back to your previous employer, but you will need to look for work during the time you are receiving unemployment benefits. Often people who work in seasonal industries find a second job working in an industry that is busy during the time your normal industry is not busy. For example, someone who works as a lookout for the U.S. Forest Service in the summer could work as a school bus driver in the fall and winter months.

3. Union members

Union members are not automatically exempt from the normal work-search requirements. Your work-search requirements could be waived if you are an active member of a union that regularly refers you to full-time work.

During the claim filing process, you will be asked questions regarding union membership to determine your proper work-search responsibilities. If your work-search requirements are going to be waived, this will be usually be stated on your online application.

4. Meeting work search requirements to avoid your benefits from being stopped

You are required to contact two employers each week. These contacts must be with employers who typically hire people for the type of jobs you are looking for and the type of jobs you are able to perform. These contacts can be made online, in person, by mail, by email or by phone.

You are also required to have an active IdahoWorks account.

Additionally, you may be required to meet in-person with one of our workforce consultants at your local office. The consultant will help make sure you have all the tools you need so you can return to work in the shortest amount of time possible. Our workforce consultants can help you by making sure your resume is ready, by preparing you for job interviews and by sharing innovative job seeking tips.

It is important to keep your address up-to-date in our Claimant Portal so the letter we mail you that contains the information about meeting with a workforce consultant is not delayed or lost in the mail. If you are asked to meet with a workforce consultant and do not participate, then your benefits will be stopped.

5. Valid work-search contacts

A work-search contact is only valid if the person you made contact with has the authority to hire you. This does not include speaking with friends, family members or other people who work for the company you are applying to unless they have the authority to hire you.

In order for a work-search contact to be considered valid, it must be for a job where you will be paid an hourly wage, or a regular salary, as an employee. Jobs where you will be considered an independent contractor, or self-employed, do not count as valid work-search contacts.

You can’t count a contact with the same employer more than once unless you have progressed to the next level in the hiring process. For example, you may not send in a resume one week and then reuse the same contact the following week because you sent a second resume. However, if you have sent in a resume and are now being asked to interview, then you may use this work-search contact again for the week when the interview happens. Also, if you currently work part time, you may not use your current employer as a work-search contact.

An online contact is only valid if it results in an online application being completed or a résumé being submitted. Simply searching websites such as IdahoWorks.gov or Indeed.com is not enough to meet this requirement.

Click here for more information regarding valid contacts.

6. Reporting work-search contacts

You will be asked to enter information about your work-search contacts when you file your weekly certification. (Your weekly certification is completed using the Claimant Portal at labor.idaho.gov/claimantportal.)

Some of the information you will be asked to enter includes the type of job you applied for, company name, address, phone number, contact name, the date of contact, type of contact and the results of the contact.

Our work search log can help you keep track of this information so you have it ready when you file your weekly certification application online.

7. Not looking for work

You may be denied benefits for any week that you don’t make two valid work-search contacts. If you are having trouble meeting this requirement, our workforce consultants can help you find jobs to apply for.

8. Know your rights and responsibilities

It is important to know your rights and responsibilities as an unemployment insurance claimant. The Rights & Responsibilities pamphlet we mailed to you after you applied for benefits contains this information. Understanding this information will help you to avoid having your benefits stopped or denied because you failed to comply with your work-search requirements.

9. Returning to work

It’s important to understand that you’re required to continue to look for work even after you have received a job offer. The Idaho Department of Labor does not change your work-seeking status until you have actually returned to full-time employment.

It also is important to know that you must not file your weekly certification for any week in which you worked full time. It is not OK to continue to file for benefits until you receive your first paycheck. Continuing to collect benefits after returning to work full time is considered fraud and could lead to monetary penalties and criminal prosecution. If you do this, your new employer also will be notified.

Once you start working full time, simply quit filing your weekly certifications to make your claim inactive. There is no need to call us.

10. How the Idaho Department of Labor can help you find a job

Help is available, free of charge, at any of our 25 Idaho Department of Labor offices. If you would like assistance in your job search, please make an appointment with a workforce consultant at your local office. We’d love to help you in your job search so you can return to work as soon as possible.

Many resources can be found on the Idaho Department of Labor website. Some of these resources include job listings on IdahoWorks and wage and career information on JobScape. We also have several publications with tips for job seekers.

The local offices offer workshops on topics such as resume writing or interviewing. They also host hiring events throughout the year. Check the online events calendar for information about events taking place in your community.

— Kristie Winslow, technical writer
Idaho Department of Labor

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