AUGUSTA — The Maine Department of Labor announced Thursday it is tightening work search requirements for people on unemployment, reinstating the traditional work search requirements as of Sunday, May 23.
Maine had temporarily expanded the types of activities that would meet the work search requirement, adjusting to sudden closings, health concerns, school, childcare and other issues brought about by the coronavirus pandemic.
“Thousands of Maine people lost their jobs during the pandemic, through no fault of their own. Now it is our goal to get them back to work,” said Laura Fortman, Commissioner of the Maine Department of Labor. “With vaccines more widely available, and with businesses re-opened now and in need of help – especially with the busy tourism season approaching, we want people to rejoin the workforce, earn a living and aid in our state’s economic recovery.”
Work search requirements had been relaxed because of the pandemic to include job-related education or skills development, and networking. Now people receiving unemployment will be required to actively look for work and to accept positions for which they are reasonably qualified. A refusal to accept an offer of suitable work is grounds for disqualifying a person for benefits.
The regional CareerCenters of the Department of Labor will assist people to connect with jobs by hosting job fairs, offering job workshops and reemployment services.
In addition, Commissioner Fortman pointed out, in many cases, people receiving unemployment benefits can go back to work part-time and still retain the $300 weekly stipend offered by Congress through this summer. A new online tool offered by the Department will calculate how many hours a week a person can work and still collect partial benefits, including the $300 stipend, based on weekly earnings. The tool is found HERE under “Looking for work?”
Those who were self-employed and now receiving unemployment must attest to engaging in activities designed to fully reopen their business, such as connecting with the Office of Business Development to explore the resources available to small businesses. If an individual was previously self-employed but has no plans to return to self-employment, they will be required to do a work search and accept a position for which they are reasonably qualified.
Whether or not currently unemployed, people looking for work should visit Maine JobLink, to find thousands of jobs posted, including remote work. Employers can post their jobs by registering with the Maine JobLink.
CareerCenters host a variety of job fairs as well as one-on-one meetings with a consultant, to develop employment or training plans. The CareerCenter can be reached by email at MaineDOL.CareerCenter@maine.gov, by phone at 207-623-7981, or by live-chat at MaineCareerCenter.gov.
Employers who have tried to recall employees or have made job offers that have been declined can report those refusals HERE. The Department will determine whether the individual is receiving unemployment benefits, and, if so, determine whether they should remain eligible.
Employers can also participate in the WorkShare program, which is designed to help employers avoid layoffs by allowing groups of workers to receive partial unemployment benefit payments while their employer reduces their hours. The employees are then subject to being called back when work expands.