As the leaves fall from the trees as fast as the Packer’s playoff chances, many construction employees are preparing for seasonal layoffs and applying for unemployment benefits. To receive unemployment benefits in Wisconsin, laid-off workers must meet the state’s work-search requirements.
Wisconsin’s unemployment-insurance laws require employees who are collecting benefits to register with the Job Center of Wisconsin within 14 days of filing their initial claims. Employees who fail to register by then will see their benefits suspended until they complete their registration. Even after employees register, they won’t receive benefits until a one-week waiting period has elapsed. Fortunately, an employee who is laid off several times a year only has one waiting week per benefit year.
After employees register, they must conduct at least four work searches a week unless they receive a waiver from the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development. Before 2015, employees could get a year-long work search waiver. Now in Wisconsin, the work-search waiver is limited to an original eight weeks for employees who are expected to be recalled within that period. This waiver period may be extended for an additional four weeks with verification from the employer, giving employees 12 weeks in total. Work searches are also required for weeks with holidays like Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year’s.
Employees need to identify their work-search actions when filing their weekly claim. If the claim is submitted using the telephone, additional materials will have to be mailed or faxed to the DWD. Helpful Hint – online filing is much easier. Employees should keep an accurate record of where and when they applied because DWD could require verification for up to 52 weeks after they have received benefits. Here are some ways – this is not an exhaustive list – to conduct a valid work search:
- Submitting a resume or application to an employer
- Taking civil service exams
- Registering with a placement center or headhunter
- Making use of non-mandatory re-employment services
- Posting a resume on an employment website
- Meeting with a career counselor
- Taking part in a job interview
- Taking a WorkKeys exam
Here are some examples of what does not constitute a valid work search:
- Viewing job leads without applying
- Getting in touch with employers only to learn that no openings exist
- Submitting applications to same employer within a four week period unless you are doing so for a new job
- Submitting subsequent or duplicate resumes to a job-search website
- Submitting an application for work that is not reasonable considering an employee’s training, experience, duration of employment and the availability of jobs in the labor market. You think twice, for instance, before applying to be quarterback of the Green Bay Packers.
John Schulze is director of legal and government affairs at the Associated Builders and Contractors of Wisconsin.