COVID-19 Update

Message from the Northeast Workforce Development Board – regarding Corona Virus (COVID-19)

Welcome Back Message

We continue to monitor the coronavirus (COVID-19) situation closely. This is an evolving situation and, as such, can be stressful. We wanted to assure you of our ongoing efforts to protect the safety of our customers, our employees and the communities we serve.

We have contingency plans in place to allow for the continuation of services for our clients, partners, and employers. Our Reopening Plan is designed to ensure continued service provision with as little interruption as possible. Our American Job Center offices are in the process of reopening through a phased-in process which began June 15, 2020. We will be scheduling in-person services, BY APPOINTMENT ONLY, from June 29-July 10, 2020, and moving toward full opening by July 13, 2020. We will continue to leverage our technologies and resources to better assist you.

Be aware there are new protocols in place designed to ensure the health and safety of our employees, partners, and the public. For more information about what to expect and what you can do to remain safe and healthy, click on the following:

NEWDB Reopening Plan

What are the Signs and Symptoms of COVID-19

Steps to help prevent the spread of COVID Attachment

What to Do If You Receive a Report of COVID Attachment

Case Managers can continue to be contacted in the following ways:

For Pryor or Claremore – Contact Cathy Burkhead by email at Burkhead.Cathleen@odlemanagement.com

For Bartlesville or Miami contact Falesha Vonner by phone at 918-800-9771 or by email at Vonner.Falesha@odlemanagement.com.

For Businesses needing assistance with hiring or lay-offs, please contact Michelle Bish by phone at 918-907-0902 or by email at Michelle.Bish@northeastworkforceboard.com.

Filing an Unemployment Claim:

To file an unemployment claim, click this link: https://www.ok.gov/oesc/:

Then, Click on How Do I File for Unemployment Insurance; or use this link:  https://www.ok.gov/oesc/Claimants/ to go straight to the How Do I File page.

Individuals who have difficulty using the online application due to language barriers or disabilities may call 1-800-555-1554 for assistance in filing claims.

Use the 1-800-555-1554 number for questions about filing. Be aware that these lines will be quite busy and a 2 hour wait time will not be uncommon.

Claims Processing:

  • The first step is to establish an unemployment claim. Claims are effective the Sunday of the week in which they are filed. Example: If an individual waits three weeks to file, those three weeks will not be compensated.
  • Once the claim is established, individuals must still file weekly continued claims to request payment for those weeks. This must be done after the weekends but within fourteen days. For example, if your claim is effective Sunday 3-15-20, the first weekending date is Saturday 3-21-20. The weekly claim for 3-21-20 must be filed no earlier than 3-22-20 but no later than Saturday, 4-4-20. Claim weeks filed more than fourteen days after the week ending (Saturday) date are considered untimely and will not be paid.
  • The first week in which the individual meets all eligibility requirements and for which a weekly continued claim is filed is a waiting period week and will not be paid.
  • If the individual separated due to any reason other than a lack of work or if any other “issue” such as the inability to seek or accept work or the receipt of deductible income is on the claim, no payments will be made until a determination is issued finding the individual eligible to receive benefits. Weekly continued claims must be filed during this time period or no benefits will be paid on an allowed determination. This process normally takes 3-4 weeks to complete.
  • Monetary entitlement is based on wages earned during the base period. The base period is normally the first four of the last five completed calendar quarters. We only have access to Oklahoma wages. If the individual worked in another state, was in the military or worked for the federal government we have to request the wages. This normally takes 2-3 weeks.

Other items for Unemployment Claims:

  • Individuals should register for work at this link: https://okjobmatch.com/ada/r/.
  • Payments are issued on a debit card. Individuals will have the option of having payments direct deposited through the debit card. Anyone that has never received a debit card from OESC will have the option of setting up direct deposit without using the debit card.
  • Information about the debit card process can be found on our homepage under “Additional Resources.”
  • Individuals filing for unemployment benefits must provide identification documents to the Commission within 7 days of filing the claim. This can be done by faxing legible copies of the documents to 405-962-7524 or by mailing the copies to OESC PO Box 52006 OKC, OK 73152-2006.
  • Weekly Benefit Amounts can range from $16 per week to $539 per week. The maximum benefit amount can be from $416 to $11,700. These amounts are based on earnings in unemployment taxable employment during the base period. The average number of weeks payable is approximately 20.5 weeks.
  • Unemployment claims are good for one year. If the individual returns to work within that year then loses that job through no fault of his or her own, the claim may be reopened. If the entire balance is withdrawn, no new claim may be filed until the end of the one year period of time.

Employer FAQs about Unemployment Insurance and COVID-19:

I have to close my business due to COVID-19. What has to be done for my employees to file a claim?

  • If you are closing permanently: Individuals may apply for unemployment online. If assistance is needed in filing claimants must call 1-800-555-1554.
  • If you are closing temporarily: There are two options in this case, depending on the size of your business. The easiest method would be to have employees file online at the address above. When filing, they would need to provide a return to work date within eight weeks of the last day worked. Another option is for your business to submit a mass claim.

What is a mass claim?

  • A mass claim is a claim initiated by the employer when a temporary shutdown occurs. In order to file the mass claim the employer must have at least 25 employees and must complete an excel file with specific information on each employee. The file will establish claims and employees will need to file weekly certifications for payment until they return to work.
  • Inquiries on mass claims may be sent to MASSClaims@oesc.state.ok.us. Please note, mass claims need a few days to process to ensure that the file is correct.
  • If you have closed and are unable to correspond with the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission (OESC), please have your employees file their own claims at https://unemployment.state.ok.us/.

Do my employees have to look for other work while the business is closed?

  • If a return to work date has been given to the employee, he/she will not have to search for other work during the layoff period. If there is no return to work date, work search must be completed.

Is Disaster Unemployment Assistance (DUA) available?

  • Not at this time.

If DUA is approved for the COVID-19 pandemic, what should employers do?

  • Indicate on OESC correspondence that the separation is due to COVID-19 and fax it to 405-962-7504.

Is there any type of extended benefit assistance available?

  • Not at this time.

I have to close my business permanently due to COVID-19, do I need to report this to the OESC?

Will COVID-19 affect my ability to pay UI tax?

  • Tax payments should be submitted online thru the EzTaxExpress Portal at https://eztaxexpress.oesc.state.ok.us, either credit card or ACH Debit. No cash payment will be accepted when we are closed to the public.

Will COVID-19 affect my ability to file UI quarterly reports?

What do I do if I am able to recall employees sooner than expected?

  • Notify OESC in writing of the return to work date by faxing the information to 405-962-7504.

My employees are required to show identification. How will they do that if local Workforce offices are closed?

  • ID documentation (one government-issued photo-ID and another document such as Social Security Card, school ID card, birth certificate, or voter’s ID card) must be faxed to 405-962-7524 or mailed to:

OESC

PO Box 52006

Oklahoma City, OK  73152-2006

How will my tax rates be affected if staff are sent home?

  • Tax rates are computed annually. There are no expected changes to the 2020 tax rates due to COVID-19. The 2021 tax rate may increase due to claims filed during this time.

Other Important Resources

For your convenience, we have identified the following resources for our business and participants:

Covid-19 & Oklahoma Works Information – Includes information for individuals needing to file unemployment, hiring resources, business resources, and information about lay-offs.

Oklahoma Department of Commerce/COVID 19

Oklahoma State Department of Health

US Centers for Disease Control

World Health Organization