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VEC to reinstate weekly search for work requirements

Updated: Apr. 7, 2021 at 7:15 PM EDT
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HENRICO COUNTY, Va. (WWBT) - The Virginia Employment Commission (VEC) will be reinstating the weekly search for work requirements for applicants in the near future.

In 2020, Governor Ralph Northam suspended those requirements as hundreds of thousands of Virginians sought unemployment benefits due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“That was something they were doing before the pandemic,” said Kirkland Charity, Jr., of Henrico. “So that really didn’t surprise me.”

However, Charity feels there are other matters that need to be addressed first. Several Virginians continue to report issues with receiving benefits.

“I really think they need to get their system straight because it’s just another added setback to the people who are already struggling,” he said.

Charity was one of hundreds of thousands of people across the Commonwealth who were left unemployed in 2020.

After six months of receiving unemployment benefits and searching for work, he secured a new job in November.

“I’m very thankful for my job,” Charity said.

It did not come without some hardships though. “I tried to apply for jobs that were equivalent to my VDOT job and it just wasn’t happening,” Charity said.

The VEC is hoping that will not deter people from seeking work. According to Charity, his current salary is the most he has ever been paid.

“Great benefits,” he said.

The requirement, which is a part of state and federal law, will apply to all customers – including those receiving Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA). Each person will be required to apply for at least two jobs per week.

“Customers are normally required to actively look for work while collecting unemployment benefits,” said Commissioner Ellen Marie Hess, Virginia Employment Commission. “With increased vaccination access, first in the nation workplace safety regulations, and a robust demand for workers from businesses, Virginia will resume collecting and reviewing work search activity of customers in the near future.”

VEC released the following eligibility requirements:

  • Individuals receiving unemployment benefits will be required to actively apply for at least 2 jobs each week in order to receive their benefits.
  • Individuals will be required to report details of their job search activity each week to the VEC for review.
  • Individuals will not be eligible for benefits for any week they fail to make the required job search.
  • VEC plans to begin notifying customers in May with additional details regarding these changes.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, the VEC has received more than 1.5 million claims with over $12.2 billion benefits paid.

The VEC will work with Virginia Career Works Centers to help Virginians looking for work.

“We are here to help unemployed Virginians successfully rejoin the state’s workforce,” said Hess. “and to help connect job seekers with the additional resource services they may need to return to work, including child care.”

Customers who want more information about child care and financial assistance for child care can click here.

More than 520,000 jobs are currently posted on the Virginia Workforce Connection website, however, a VEC spokeswoman said they are having a difficult time getting people to apply.

“In some cases, the benefits are paying more than the jobs are,” Charity said. “It’s almost at the point now where it’s more beneficial to be unemployed than to be working.

However, Charity said that not a good mindset to have.

“There are more benefits to working than it is to be unemployed; it really, really is,” he said.

More details about the job search requirements are expected to be released in May.

VEC is also reminding Virginians that in order to receive benefits, they must be able and available to work each week that they claim benefits. This also applies to the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program.

Customers will need to accurately report their status to VEC as part of their weekly filing.

VEC continues is also continuing to investigate unemployment insurance fraud and take steps to prevent it. Officials are also reminding Virginians to protect their information and monitor their accounts.

Officials said customers should never share their PIN or password with anyone.

VEC has also received reports of banking information being changed without the customer’s permission.

While those reports are being investigated, customers can call 1-800-897-5630 to check their bank information.

Anyone who believes they are a victim of fraud can report it online or by calling 1-800-782-4001.

For more information, click here.

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