By Mark Johnson, Senior VP of Government Affairs
The Employment Security Department has embarked on a campaign to improve its customer service both for workers and employers. Julie Lord, ESD staff, gave a presentation to the Employment Security Advisory Council (ESAC) last week, on which I serve.
There have been complaints that the wait times to file a claim electronically or by phone have been too long. Each month workers file approximately 67,000 claims for unemployment compensation. Roughly 67 percent of those claims are filed electronically. Additionally, about 6,200 employers contact ESD per month.
First and foremost ESD has committed to hiring 30 new call center workers bringing the total number to 142. The new employees will help answer phones in a timely manner and guide claimants through the process and help get them to the right staff.
We applaud ESD’s efforts to improve their customer service so that workers can get the help they need and employers can get answers to their questions in a reasonable amount of time. We will know if efforts have been successful when the peak season rolls around that begins October/November as the construction industry slows. At that time of year, many construction workers can’t find employment until the spring.
In the State of Washington, laid-off workers through no fault of their own can receive up to 26 weeks of unemployment compensation. The amount of compensation depends on what the worker used to make. The maximum weekly amount is approximately $700. Unemployment benefits are entirely paid for by employer taxes. Washington State has the healthiest UI trust fund in the country with many months of reserves.