Rhode Island to Reinstate Work Search Requirement for Unemployment Recipients Beginning May 23

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Beginning on Sunday, May 23, 2021, Rhode Island will once again require unemployment insurance recipients to be actively searching for suitable work, the Department of Labor and Training (DLT) announced.

The work search requirement, a long-standing component of the unemployment insurance program, was temporarily waived at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic when many sectors of the economy were ordered to shut down. Now that all adults are eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine and most business restrictions are set to be lifted by the end of this month, the Department is encouraging claimants to look for new career opportunities.

“Bringing back the work search requirement is a return to how the unemployment insurance program functioned before the pandemic,” said DLT Director Matthew Weldon. “Unemployment insurance benefits are temporary, and our goal is to get people re-connected to the economy as quickly as possible so that they can continue to support themselves and their families.”

Earlier this week, the White House released new guidance encouraging all states to reinstate work search requirements as the national economy begins opening up.

In Rhode Island, unemployment recipients will be required to apply for full-time work at least three times per week. Attending a job interview or career fair will also count towards their work search.

Claimants must attest that they are actively looking for suitable work when they request their payment each week. While claimants will not be required to submit records of their work search on a weekly basis, their claim may be randomly audited at any time, at which point they will be required to provide documentation of their job search or face a possible overpayment. DLT has a work search log available to help claimants keep records of their search.

Jobseekers can visit Rhode Island’s virtual career center at backtoworkri.com to access a wide array of free resources to support their job search. Rhode Islanders can schedule a one-on-one virtual meeting with a job coach, search open job and training opportunities, get personalized career recommendations, attend virtual job fairs, and more.

Every claim is different, and there are specific circumstances that may exempt an individual from the work search requirement. For example, a person with a definite return-to-work date from their previous employer, or a person with a legitimate childcare challenge caused by the pandemic, may be exempt.

Additional information, and answers to frequently asked questions, are available on the DLT website.


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