Confusion abounds about what qualifies for a job search

For six or more months now, the Department of Workforce Development (DWD) has new job search requirements. There are both new regulations and forms for tracking your job search efforts. Yet, at the jobs group where I volunteer, numerous folks have asked questions this January and February about what actions qualify as a job search. They are right to be confused.

The UCB-12 form the Department has been providing explains that:

Follow the guidelines below when making your work search:

In person contacts are preferred. Telephone or mail contacts are acceptable only if the employer cannot be contacted in person or this is the customary method of applying for this type of work.

Registration with a public or private placement agency is an acceptable contact only on the first visit to that agency or when you are asked to return by the agency.

If during a week you attend an employment workshop which offers instruction to improve your skills toward finding and obtaining work, report the name and telephone number of the organization sponsoring the workshop, the location of the workshop, the name of the workshop leader and the date(s) you attended on your work search record. This is acceptable work search activity and counts as an employer contact.

This form was drafted in July 2013. New emergency regulations implemented in October 2013, however, set forth the following criteria for job searches:

Section 11. DWD 127.01 (1), (2) (intro.) and (a) are amended to read:

DWD 127.01 Work search; policy; requirements. (1) Under s. 108.04 (2), Stats., a A claimant shall be eligible for unemployment benefits for any given week only when the department finds, among other things, that the claimant has within that week made a reasonable completed at least 4 actions to search for suitable work within that week. The search for suitable work shall include at least 2 actions by the claimant each week that are reasonably designed to secure work. Mere registration Upon request of the department, a claimant may be required to provide verification of conducting at least 4 work search actions that are reasonably designed to secure work. Registration for work under ch. DWD 126 does not establish that the claimant is making a reasonable search for suitable work. It is essential that the claimant personally and diligently search for suitable work on his or her own behalf. The reasonableness of a search for work will, in part, depend on the employment opportunities in the claimant’s labor market area. A work search which may be appropriate in a labor market area with limited opportunities may be totally unacceptable in an area with greater opportunities. Unreasonable limitations by a claimant as to salary, hours or conditions of work indicate that a claimant is not making a reasonable search for suitable work. The department expects each claimant to conduct himself or herself themselves as would a prudent person who is out of work and seeking work.

(2) The department shall consider All of the following actions to by a claimant shall constitute a reasonable work search for suitable work under the facts and circumstances of each claimant’s situation action:

(a) Making applications Applying for work with employers who may reasonably be expected to have openings for suitable work;, except that applications submitted to the same employer more than once in a 4-week period are not credited as a work search action unless a new job is posted or available, or the employer’s customary practices or circumstances encourage the submission of additional applications.

Section 12. DWD 127.01 (2) (b) is repealed.

Section 13 . DWD 127.01 (2) (c) and (d) are amended to read:

DWD 127.01 (2) (c) Making applications or taking.

(cm) Taking examinations for suitable work in the civil service of a governmental unit;.

(d) Registering for suitable work with a public or private placement facility, including a union referral or hiring hall and complying with the various union registration requirements and job referral procedures;.

Under these regulations, only actual job applications qualify as a work search. Informational interviews do not qualify, and setting up accounts and profiles on services such as LinkedIn are very questionable (registration at Job Center of Wisconsin does qualify, however, and, as described in this post, is now mandated by DWD). In other words, there is an obvious conflict between what activity the job search form has described as conduct that qualifies as a job search and the actual regulations now in effect for what legally constitutes a job search.

Last week, DWD updated its job search form (the form is now dated February 2014 on the bottom left hand corner and meta data for the English PDF version indicates it was created on 11 February 2014) with a new description of job search activity:

The following actions may be considered one reasonable work search action:

  • Applying for work with employers who are reasonably expected to have openings for work suitable for you;
  • Taking an exam for work that is suitable to you in the civil service of a governmental unit;
  • Registering for work with a public or private placement facility; including a union or your professional organization;
  • Following the recommendations of a public employment office or similar reemployment service, including participating in reemployment services

Applications submitted to the same employer within a 4-week period do not count as a work search action unless a new job is posted or available.

Viewing job leads (via jobcenterofwisconsin.com, classified ads or another source) does not count as a work search action.

No notice of this updated form, however, has appeared. From DWD’s unemployment page for workers, here is the list of the latest unemployment news for claimants as of 11 AM on February 17th:

UI news for Feb. 17th

So, those claimants relying on the July 2013 form have been getting wrong advice for some time, and DWD does not appear to have even noted that these folks might want to check out a new job search form DWD has finally updated.

Finally, whether these new job search regulations accomplish much is also subject to debate. Analysis of these emergency regulations and the proposed permanent job search regulations (which closely mirror the emergency regulations) is available here.

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