DWD: Pandemic unemployment rules still stand despite Supreme Court ruling

These states have the lowest unemployment rate
Posted at 12:12 PM, May 14, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-15 06:31:52-04

Despite Wednesday's Wisconsin Supreme Court ruling against the safer at home extension, the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development says temporary rules put in place for the pandemic will stand, including waiving the one week waiting period and the weekly job search status.

DWD Program and Policy Analyst Emily Savard said Thursday the one week waiting period will be waived until February next year. The requirement to show you are looking for a job will also continue to be waived until September.

However, if your work opens back up and you don't feel safe going back to work, you may not be eligible for benefits.

"No matter what if somebody does refuse a job offer, even when the stay at home order was an effect, we need to look to see on a case by case basis whether or not benefits would be allowed," Savard said. "So the short answer to that is no. People are not treated differently based on which county that they would live in. Anytime somebody does say they're not going to go back to work, refuses an offer of work that is an eligibility issue that we need to look into and adjudicate that according to the law."

"I'm almost broke," Cheryl Devries, a server in Genoa City said. "So I do need the money. I need the money very bad. It's scary."

Devries says she hasn't received unemployment yet. Her last day on the job was March 20th. Her job is opening back up next week. She is excited to see her coworkers and customers again, but is nervous about COVID-19.

"I miss work," Devries said. "I really miss it. I'm going to wear a mask and gloves and stuff like that because I have to. I have to have a job to have money coming in. I'm the only one in my house."

She's not the only one.

"I'm going day by day," Terance Ivy said. "We're going through what we have in the cabinets to eat and telling our landlord we'll get him the rent when we can."

Ivy lost his job in the beginning of April. He says, aside from the stimulus check, he hasn't had any money coming in since.

He says he hasn't received unemployment benefits because of an issue between his former employer and the DWD. He found a new job, but still won't get paid for another couple of weeks.

So he made the decision to find a new job, even though he doesn't feel comfortable with the current state of things due to COVID-19.

"I don't have a choice but to work," Ivy said. "I don't have unemployment. I have friends and family but they're also in the same situation. So we really can't get assistance form people who need assistance."

Overall, Ivy isn't happy about the state being reopened. He has no problem going back to work; he's helping at a group home. However, despite his concerns over the virus, he feels he has no choice.

"I'd rather be alive and poor," Ivy said. "The economy can come back but we're going to lose a lot more lives and we can't get those back."

Many viewers have contacted TMJ4 News asking about continued delayed payments as well. Savard said the DWD is currently training people to answer the phones to help cut down on the backlog. They hope to bring on 1,300 people through new hires and moving people from other parts of the department. The entire department started the pandemic with 500 employees.

Savard adds people who applied will still receive the back pay for weeks they missed, including the additional $600 in Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation.

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