Coronavirus Legal News

Work-Search Requirements to be Reinstated; Unemployment Fraud on the Rise

July 7, 2020

By: Michael S. Moore, H. Wayne Young and Katherine C. Campbell

Work-Search Requirement Reinstated

The Arkansas Division of Workforce Services (DWS) recently announced that starting June 28, the work-search requirement for unemployment benefits is once again in effect. DWS had waived the requirement in March in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. As part of the job-search requirement, individuals receiving unemployment benefits must make two to three job contacts each week depending on where in the state they live. The work-search requirement also applies to individuals receiving Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), except for those who are self-employed. Self-employed PUA claimants must be engaged in activities designed to resume their usual self-employment and should enter the number of days each week that they were engaged in activities designed to resume their usual self-employment. Individuals receiving Extended Benefits have enhanced work-search requirements and must make three to four job contacts each week depending on where in the state they live.

Exemption from Work-Search Requirement

Individuals with return-to-work dates that are within 10 weeks of the date their initial claim for unemployment benefits was filed are exempt from the work-search requirements. In order to receive the work-search exemption, employees must provide DWS with a written letter from their employer that includes the claimant’s name, last four digits of the claimant’s Social Security number, their last day of work, and the date to be recalled to work. Claimants must mail or deliver the letter to their local DWS office or they can mail the letter to DWS’s main office (P.O. Box 2981, Little Rock, AR 72203).

Individuals receiving partial unemployment may also be exempt from the work-search requirement. If an employee’s work hours have been reduced from full-time to part-time and the employee works at least eight hours per week, they are exempt.

Increase in Unemployment Fraud

DWS has identified an increase in unemployment claims filed by identity thieves. In partial response to this wave of fraudulent activity, DWS is sending out letters to some recipients to present their picture IDs at a DWS office to ensure that the claim is not fraudulent.

In response to the recent fraud, employers should take action to protect their unemployment accounts. Employers should monitor the claims filed, including Notice to Last Employer, Notice to Base Period Employer, and the quarterly charge statement upon receipt. Employers also should be sure to enroll with the DWS online system to allow for immediate notifications of filed claims. Finally, employers should communicate with DWS regarding suspicious claims or other suspicious activity in their DWS account. Reports of possible fraud may be filed with DWS online, by telephone at 501-682-1058, or by email.

Michael S. Moore is a partner in the firm’s Labor and Employment Practice Group with an emphasis on wage-and-hour collective action employment discrimination defense. He specializes in litigation of discrimination cases, wage-hour collective actions, sexual harassment, wrongful discharge, FMLA and employee and supervisor training.

H. Wayne Young is a partner with the firm and a member of the Labor and Employment Law Practice Group. His practice focuses on employment and labor law including discrimination matters, harassment, wage and hour compliance, family and medical leave and covenants not to compete. He advises his clients in these matters from the compliance stage, to defending government investigations and litigation if necessary.

Katherine C. Campbell is an associate in the Litigation Practice Group at Friday, Eldredge & Clark. She serves as litigation counsel for individuals and businesses in complex business and commercial disputes including employment claims, collective action wage and hour claims, and breach of contract matters.

Disclaimer: The information included here is provided for general informational purposes only and should not be a substitute for legal advice nor is it intended to be a substitute for legal counsel. For more information or if you have further questions, please contact one of our Attorneys.