State Swaps Federal Unemployment Aid for Return-to-Work Incentives | Local News
After complications from the COVID-19 pandemic forced many companies to lay off their workers, those companies – and the state – are now hoping to see workers return to their jobs.
The United States gained 850,000 jobs in June, but employers are still struggling to recruit staff. The reasons for the labor shortage vary. Some workers still avoid coming home for fear of contracting the virus, unemployment benefits have made it more lucrative for some people to stay home rather than going back to work, people have had to stay put to take care of children or the elderly, and many workers demand higher wages.
Tahlequah Lumber owner Mike Skinner said last week companies saw their payrolls rise and companies wanting workers back had to increase their wages.
The state, while ending federal programs for jobless claims in Oklahoma, also announced a back-to-work initiative.
Pandemic Unemployment Emergency Compensation, Unemployment Pandemic Assistance, Federal Unemployment Pandemic Compensation, Mixed Unemployment Compensation, and Emergency Assistance Programs. Unemployment cases for government entities and non-profit organizations are no longer available. All claims that are pending arbitration, appeal or in the review board process that were filed four weeks before June 27 should still receive benefits for those weeks if their claim is approved.
Instead, the state announced that the first 20,000 Oklahoma residents who received unemployment benefits to return to the workforce would receive a $ 1,200 incentive using US bailout money.
“It’s the right move for Oklahoma,” Governor Kevin Stitt said. “Since our state has been open for business since last June, the biggest challenge Oklahoma businesses face today is not reopening, but finding employees. In order for Oklahoma to become one of the top ten states, labor market participation must be at the highest level and I am committed to doing what I can to help the people of Oklahoma get off the line. key and enter the labor market.
To be eligible for the Return to Work Initiative, claimants must have previously worked and present pay stubs for six weeks of full-time employment at the time of their application. Applicants must have had an active unemployment claim between May 2 and May 15 and have completed at least six full weeks of paid employment between May 17 and September 4.
Several employers applauded the movement.
Georg Fischer Central Plastics has remained open and ensured the safety of our employees during the pandemic. As businesses began to reopen, demand for our products skyrocketed, but our ability to expand our workforce was disappointing at best, with many saying they could earn more from unemployment. These are not minimum wage jobs and offer career growth, great benefits and a safe and stable workplace, ”said Dani Shields, director of human resources at Georg Fischer Central Plastics, LLC., Who added that the initiative removed an obstacle for the state to prosper.
According to the US Department of Labor, 3,688 fewer Oklahoma residents have filed for first-installment unemployment assistance. In the meantime, many applications for the Return to Work Initiative have reportedly been rejected due to technical issues.
Oklahoma Job Security Commission executive director Shelley Zumwalt said on Thursday that about 10% of applications made it through the final review process and the rest did not go through all of the stages because they did not meet the eligibility conditions.
“We find that a significant number of applicants made errors in the application process which resulted in their refusal, whether it was a blurry photo or inconsistent information between the pay stubs and the form. candidacy, “she said. “If you believe you are eligible and have been refused, we strongly encourage you to carefully read the submission instructions and reapply for the initiative. “
To learn more about the Return to Work Initiative, visit oklahoma.gov/oesc/individuals.html#return-to-work.