Governor Charlie Baker announced on Thursday, May 20, the reinstatement of work search requirements for all regular Unemployment Insurance [UI] claimants starting the week of June 15.
The requirement applies to UI claimants receiving Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation [PUEC] and those on Extended Benefits [EB].
Massachusetts temporarily suspended these work-search requirements in March 2020, following updated federal guidance at the outset of the pandemic.
The work search requirement for UI means claimants must attest each week that they are making at least three work-search activities per week and provide proof to the Department of Unemployment Assistance [DUA] if requested. The requirements are necessary to maintain eligibility for UI benefits.
Most claimants are eligible to continue to receive partial or reduced UI benefits—and the full amount of the special COVID-related $300 weekly stipend offered through the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) program—even as they return to employment.
Claimants who report wages from new employment will have their regular UI weekly benefit proportionately reduced to offset new wages, but in most circumstances claimants will remain eligible for the $300 weekly stipend until their regular wages exceed 133 percent of their regular weekly benefit amount (calculated without including the $300 weekly stipend).
Effective the week of June 15, regular UI claimants will not be able to cite COVID-related reasons to waive work search requirements and must accept suitable employment, if offered. 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 Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) program will end in the first week of September. Massachusetts will lift all COVID-19 restrictions and complete the reopening process on May 29. The statewide COVID-19 state of emergency will end Jun 15.