State acting to address unemployment claims filing problems

Gov. David Ige and Labor and Industrial Relations Director Scott Murakami announced said today the state is acting to address unemployment claims filing problems and a program to efficiently train and transfer labor into Hawaii’s businesses that can help reduce job losses and dampen the economic slide due to COVID-19.

“Please be assured that we are taking the actions necessary to ensure that all unemployment benefits claims will be filed and paid as quickly as possible. Please bear with us as we develop capacity and expand points of entry for filing claims,” said Gov. Ige.

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The state is taking the following actions:

• Benefits will be paid to individuals who file their initial unemployment claims late.

• Expanding the online claims filing system capacity and increasing the phone facilities to field inquiries and assist in the filing of claims.

• Allocating staff from other programs within DLIR and from other state agencies to facilitate claims filing, processing and benefits.

• Making paper applications for unemployment benefits and drop boxes available at unemployment offices statewide and at employer work sites.

Ige said the state will interpret Hawaii’s unemployment laws to the broadest extent possible to cover those who are out of work because of COVID-19.

Also announced was the launching of the Reducing Unemployment Disruption and Driving Economic Regeneration (RUDDER) program.

The program provides up to $100,000 of relief to registered and compliant Hawaii businesses for new employees hired after March 1. The program provides an initial $500 payment for each new employee to offset training and associated costs upon notification to the department of the initial hiring of the employee. After six months of continuous employment and upon receipt of certification from the employer that they have retained the employee, the DLIR will issue a second payment of $500.

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“The primary objective of RUDDER is to facilitate an efficient labor exchange between the sectors hardest hit by COVID-19 and health-care sector employers hiring employees to combat COVID-19,” said Murakami. “We know that jobs involving cleaning, such as hotel housekeepers, could move into jobs in the health-care with minimal training and the RUDDER program will facilitate that exchange.”

The DLIR has posted a COVID-19 Workplace Updates page at: http://labor.hawaii.gov/get-the-latest-covid-19-workplace-updates/.

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