Residents of Massachusetts who are collecting unemployment insurance or coronavirus-related benefits will now be required to show that they are actively seeking employment to continue receiving payments.
“Refusing work because a UI claimant would rather collect more money in unemployment benefits is not reasonable in any circumstances and is considered fraud,” the Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development said in a statement this week.
Massachusetts is renewing the requirement, which it suspended in March 2020, as the state is slated to complete its reopening process later this month.
“The Commonwealth is set to lift all COVID-19 restrictions and complete the reopening process on May 29, 2021. The statewide COVID-19 state of emergency will terminate on June 15, 2021,” the press release said.
Claimants of the unemployment insurance “will need to keep a detailed written log of their work search activities” and will now have to document at least three attempts to get a job each week.
“The reinstatement of the work search requirement for UI claimants means that beginning with the benefit week of June 13, 2021, through June 19, 2021, claimants must attest each week that they are making at least three work-search activities per week and provide proof of work search activity to the Department of Unemployment Assistance (DUA) if requested,” it added.
In the press release, the Baker-Polito administration said its state was also continuing to prioritize vaccinations for residents amid the push to reopen.
“Massachusetts remains a national leader in vaccinations and is on-track to fully vaccinate more than 4 million people by the first week of June, and the Commonwealth recently launched a new program to make it easier for employers to help get their workers vaccinated,” it said. “As of April 2021, there were nearly 200,000 job-postings across Massachusetts, the highest that figure has ever been in history.”
Several other states that have begun their own reopenings are also resuming the mandate to search for work. North Carolina, South Carolina, Idaho, Nevada, and Virginia are among those that have implemented similar requirements.
Hiring has been a problem since the coronavirus pandemic as the April jobs report showed only 266,000 new jobs were added and unemployment rose to 6.1%.
The Labor Department initially shared estimates that 1 million new jobs would be added, and it believed unemployment would have dropped to 5.8%.