Question: There is a kink in the UI portal that I am sure is affecting a lot more people than just me. I am still attached to my full-time employer (furloughed) and don’t have to do the job search. However, when I signed on to certify my claim, I still got the job-search question. How should I have answered it? If I answered “no,” would that send my claim to pending? I answered “yes” because the question doesn’t apply, and that seemed safer, in terms of not freezing my account. The DLIR website says to have my employer submit a form, but my HR already did that. Why is the job-search question even showing up? How should I answer this question if it comes up again so that I don’t get in trouble and keep receiving my benefits?
Answer: You are referring to the job-search requirement that has been revived for people claiming unemployment compensation, with some exceptions, including for people like you. Employers are supposed to submit forms to the state Department of Labor and Industrial Relations’ Unemployment Insurance Division verifying employees who are relieved of the requirement (more on that later).
Bill Kunstman, a DLIR spokesman, said there could be a “timing issue” between when your employer submitted the form and when the form is reviewed and change is entered in the UI system. Once your UI account is updated, this problem should resolve itself.
On any UI claim you certify in the meantime, continue to answer “yes” to the job-search question because you know you are exempt, he said. Answering “no” could flag your claim for review and slow down your processing.
Previously, the work-search requirement had been waived during the pandemic, with claimants instructed to answer “yes” to questions about whether they had sought work that week, whether they had or not. The system was not updated to remove the questions altogether.
The requirement has been “reinstated for individuals who are no longer attached to their regular full-time employer or who are active members of a labor union that has a DLIR- approved job placement service,” according to the labor department.
As you presumed, other readers also are asking how to ensure the DLIR knows that they are exempt from the work-search rule. The department has relevant FAQs at hawaii unemploymentinfo.com:
Q: “What actions do I take if I am still attached to my employer but I am asked the work questions when I file my claim certifications?”
A: “If you are still attached to a full-time employer, please ask your employer to submit a UC-348 — Verification of Partial Unemployment Status form. Only your employer can submit the UC-348 form. The UI staff will review each UC-348 and change your claim status if necessary.”
Instructions on how to submit a UC-348 form are at 808ne.ws/UC348.
Q: “Why am I being asked if I made three job contacts if I am a member of a union?”
A: “If you are registered and in good standing with a referring union, you are not required to make three job contacts but you must follow your union rules for obtaining work. If your union has verified that you are in good standing, you will not be asked whether you made three job contacts per week.”
If you are covered by a referring union but got the work-search questions anyway, ask your union to submit a UC-226 — Verification of Registration form on your behalf. Once UI Division staff update your status, you should no longer be asked about job searches when you certify your claim. Only referring unions can submit the form, and can do so online. The instructions are at 808ne.ws/UC226.
Starting the claim-week ending June 19, work-search requirements also will apply to people collecting Pandemic Unemployment Assistance, a separate program that aids the self-employed and others not eligible for standard UI.
Mahalo and huge hugs to the blessed woman who helped us in Mililani on April 28. My husband and I had driven there for the very first time. At the first red light, we got totally confused. I honked to the driver in the car next to us for help getting “to the mall.” She asked us which mall and where in that mall, then said, “I’m going that way. Follow me!” Because of her patience and kindness, we arrived at my husband’s dental surgery appointment on time. — Rosemary M.
Write to Kokua Line at Honolulu Star-Advertiser, 7 Waterfront Plaza, Suite 210, 500 Ala Moana Blvd., Honolulu 96813; call 529-4773; fax 529-4750; or email email@example.com.