CORONAVIRUS UTAH

Unemployment Office: Look For Work Or Lose Payments Starting Aug. 15

Aug 4, 2020, 6:54 PM | Updated: 8:50 pm

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Utah’s Unemployment Insurance Division is warning about a big change coming mid-August that will require those previously deemed “job-attached” to start searching for work in order to receive weekly payments.

“With continued economic progress over the last five months, and the ending of the $600 weekly stimulus payment, we will soon be ending the self-attested job attachments implemented during the pandemic,” said division director Kevin Burt in a prepared statement.

Burt said the change will encourage unemployed Utahns to actively look for work each week and also assess if it’s a realistic expectation that they’ll return to their old jobs.

“If you haven’t been able to successfully return to your employer within five months the question is: Will you be able to in the next month, two months or three months? And the answer may be no,” Burt said.

Employers are still able to report to the Unemployment Insurance Division that a laid-off or furloughed worker is still job attached and that the company intends to bring that person back to work, Burt said.

The self-reported job attachment status will end on August 15. After that date, claimants will be required to register for work and complete at least four job contacts each week. They must then report those contacts to be eligible for weekly benefit payments.

“Remember, unemployment is week-to-week,” Burt said. “So we actually are re-determining eligibility for every single claimant every week.”

The warning comes as some Utahns on federally funded Pandemic Unemployment Assistance are dealing with delays in payments after new eligibility questions were added to the weekly claim form in early July.

“It’s like a nightmare,” said Lehi resident Daniel Kidwell.

Kidwell said the 10 questions showed up on the weekly claim form without explanation and were confusing.

He said his payments stopped and he waited on hold for hours but couldn’t speak to a representative about his claim.

“Should I be selling all my stuff? What am I supposed to do?” Kidwell said about the experience.

He then contacted his elected officials and finally received some answers from the unemployment office. He was told his checks should be in the mail.

“I’m still waiting on three checks total right now,” Kidwell said.

In response, the Unemployment Insurance Division told KSL that there was not an overall pause in payments but that some may have seen delays because of how they responded to the new questions.

“What that does is we actually will freeze that benefit and do an assessment to make sure that people don’t receive benefits incorrectly,” Burt said.

The weekly eligibility questions were required by the U.S. Department of Labor because gig workers and the self-employed are only eligible for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance if they lost wages specifically due to the pandemic, according to Burt.

More than 83,000 Utahns filed ongoing claims for unemployment for the week ending July 25.

For more info on Utah’s unemployment claims process, visit: https://jobs.utah.gov/

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Unemployment Office: Look For Work Or Lose Payments Starting Aug. 15