Even with some Texans being out of work purely because of the COVID 19 pandemic, the Texas Workforce Commission has now issued new mandates for their work search requirements for Unemployment Insurance (UI) in Texas, which had been suspended due to the COVID-19 crisis, will be reinstated for all Texans receiving unemployment insurance benefits on July 6.
Work search is a federal requirement to receive unemployment benefits. Individuals will continue to receive benefits, but must document their efforts to find new employment, with the first report due to TWC on July 19.
“Counties that have set their work search requirement to less than three may keep that number intact. As the economic reopening progresses, local workforce boards will evaluate their specific economic conditions and will advise the executive director on the need to increase or decrease their respective requirement,” said Clay Cole, UI division director for Texas Workforce Commission, during the June 16 board meeting.
TWC has given the three weeks to make sure everyone gets notified. For a majority of Texans, TWC will require three job searches a week. The state is encouraging all those who this new rule applies to, to use WorkInTexas.com for their search. The site has about 550,000 job openings listed. It’s 1:3 openings per unemployed person. However, not everyone qualifies for each opportunity.
But, a “work search” includes several activities, such as signing up with an employment agency, attending a job fair, and browsing jobs online. Job seekers can also go to their local workforce solutions to get training for a new career if needed.
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,” stated the commission in a press release.
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 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 members 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.
- A 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 – the 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.
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.
For details on TWC and its services in coordination with its network of local workforce development boards, call 512-463-8942 or visit www.texasworkforce.org.