AUGUSTA — The Department of Labor is reinstating the work search requirement on Aug. 9 for some individuals receiving unemployment benefits, according to a news release.
The reinstatement comes, per the release, in light of relatively low rates of COVID-19 transmission in Maine and nearly all businesses open across the state.
The requirement, which is mandated by Maine law for all unemployment claimants, had previously been extended under emergency legislation by the state Legislature at the onset of the pandemic, the release noted.
“While our economy continues to gradually reopen and more people are now able to return to work, we know that many families are still grappling with the unique economic hardships caused by COVID-19,” said Commissioner Laura Fortman. “It is our hope that by broadening the number of eligible work search activities Maine people will have maximum opportunities to safely seek work while maintaining their benefits and the Department will continue to assess additional ways to support unemployed Mainers.”
Individuals who are permanently separated from their employer must engage in work search activities beginning August 9.
Individuals still connected to an employer (which includes self-employed individuals that plan to continue self-employment) are not required to actively search for work until 30 days after the state’s Civil Emergency Declaration ends. With the recent extension of the civil emergency, this means that claimants who are still connected to their employer do not need to search for work until after October 3.
Starting with the weekly certification for the week of August 9 (which can be filed starting on August 16), all claimants will need to either provide information on their work search activity, or attest that they are self-employed or still connected with their employer.
Prior to the new questions being added to the weekly certification on August 16, the Department will post screenshots of the updated weekly certification pages.
In response to the circumstances caused by the pandemic, the Department has expanded possible work search activities to include opportunities to enhance individual’s marketability during these challenging economic times.
Work search activities are:
Attending a job fair/virtual job fair hosted by a CareerCenter
Participating in CareerCenter virtual reemployment services
Participating in a CareerCenter virtual workshop
Applying for a job for which you are reasonably qualified
Interviewing for a job for which you are reasonably qualified
Contacting an employer to inquire as to whether the employer is hiring
Participating in professional job-related education or skills development
Participating in networking events related to a job or occupation for which you are reasonably qualified
All unemployment claimants required to actively search for work must create an account on the Maine JobLink: joblink.maine.gov
JobLink is a free job search tool, where claimants can upload their resumes and employers can post their job openings. In anticipation of this requirement, MDOL is holding virtual JobLink workshops twice a week, at 2 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays. These workshops walk participants through how to create and use a JobLink account.
The CareerCenters are regularly updating and adding new workshops. Information on how to register for a workshop can be found at mainecareercenter.com/employment/workshops.shtml.
Those who are still connected to an employer are not required to actively search for other work until after October 3. However, they must still be able and available to work for that employer if recalled.
If an employer has offered work to an employee and that employee refused the work, the employer should notify the Department. A fact-finding would be held to determine if there was good cause for the refusal of work. If no good cause is determined, then the claimant would no longer be eligible for unemployment benefits.
Employers can report refusals of work here: maine.gov/unemployment/ucbr