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Work search becomes a requirement to get NC unemployment benefits

Starting March 14, 2021, new claimants will need to have a record of three job searches a week.

GREENSBORO, N.C. — The NC Governor reinstated the work search requirements for folks on unemployment. That's the headline, but there's more to it than that.  

If you're receiving unemployment benefits now, you don't have to worry about this. The work search requirement will only impact folks who file for unemployment on or after March 14, 2021.

The Governor's Executive Order was released on March 1, 2021. It not only reinstates the requirement, but it directs the North Carolina Department of Employment Security, NC DES, to have flexibility in how the requirements are met.

Why? Because in a COVID-world you can't always do things in person and there are internet issues, and transportation issues factored in.

“COVID has turned everyone upside down, especially those who have lost their jobs,” said Chris Rivera, Director of Guilford Works.

Rivera says because the Executive Order came out a day ago, there is no direction yet from the NC DES in how the directive works in real life yet but he says there are thoughts on how it would play out.

WHAT “FLEXIBLE” COULD MEAN FOR JOB SEARCHES

“This new Executive Order was just reimplementing this work search requirement which individuals would have to look for and maintain records of three job searches per week. The Governor is asking DES to be flexible in what they determine a work search to include. For example, a virtual workshop, virtual networking event, or a virtual job fair,” said Rivera.

WHAT “FLEXIBLE” COULD MEAN DURING SEARCH VERIFICATION

Before COVID hit, claimants had to verify their job search. Basically, they had to keep a record of who they talked to, what applications or resumes they put in, and where and when. The list wasn’t uploaded to the website, it was simply shown when asked. In this case, the DES is being asked to be flexible in how they are verifying or asking to produce it. “It could be simply a phone call with no physical list if there are internet issues, it could take a picture, or email it,” said Rivera.

EXECUTIVE ORDER INCLUDES ONLINE REGISTRATION

This order also requires individuals to register with NC Works online. “There are all sorts of benefits with that. Those who register can use that platform for work searches and the second benefit is the system maintains all the resumes and applications that are submitted. So, if their job search record is requested, they could look on their profile and print it out,” said Rivera.