September 15, 2020 by Southern Maine Workers Center

What if I am required to look for work to keep my benefits, but cannot because myself or a family member/ household member is part of an at risk group and can’t risk being exposed to COVID-19?

Simply put, if the work search requirement applies to you and you do not document your work search, you may lose your benefits. As described above, there are many options for meeting the work search requirements that can be done from your home without risking exposure to COVID-19, including searching for work online, attending virtual networking events, and even calling potential employers on the phone. The DOL sees these options as sufficient to address concerns about exposure to COVID-19 and is unlikely to grant exceptions to the work search requirement due to risk of exposure to COVID-19 alone. 

However, the third question on the certification form pictured above allows you to explain why you did not look for work. The Department of Labor will examine these answers on a case-by-case basis and determine whether you are still eligible to receive benefits even though you have not completed the work search requirement. If you cannot do any of the activities listed above to complete the work search requirement, you should truthfully fill out the box in question 3 and provide as much detail as possible about your situation. At this time, there is no guidance regarding what reasons may be sufficient to merit an exemption from the work search requirement or how frequently such exemptions will be granted. 

Additionally, if you are pregnant or have a disability as defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) or the Maine Human Rights Act (MHRA), you may be entitled to accommodations while applying for jobs, such as assistance filling out a written job application or participating in an interview via videoconference or over the phone instead of in person. You may request those accommodations from the individual employer. If you speak a language other than English, you may also be entitled to accommodations in the application process for positions where speaking English is not a requirement of the job. You should inquire about such accommodations from individual employers.

More frequently asked questions:

For all frequently asked questions, you can download a copy of our Know Your Rights document here.