HONOLULU — The state Department of Labor and Industrial Relations Friday announced that its new virtual call center experienced 150,000 calls on a daily basis since opening last week.
The department and its vendor have determined that a majority of those calls were claimants using autodialing (robocalls) that initially flooded the center and made it very hard for normal callers, but the contractor has implemented solutions to prevent this, and claimants can now wait in queue and get through to an agent.
“We’re starting to see a large number of claimants file for the Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation, or PEUC, the 13-week extension, as more claimants exhaust their 26 weeks of regular unemployment insurance benefits,” said DLIR Director Anne Eustaquio.
“The biggest challenge we have now involves claimants not answering phone calls from unemployment-insurance staff due to phone-network services identifying the calls as spam or telemarketers.”
The manual PEUC claim-application process takes 21 days to complete, just as when a new claim is filed.
The DLIR believes that many claimants are answering the questions incorrectly, and has posted information at the following links to assist claimants filing correctly: labor.hawaii.gov/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/PEUC-How-to-Apply-.pdf and twitter.com/HI_DLIR/status/1313929573239648256.
The DLIR is also following up with all claimants who do not qualify based on their answers to the questions.
The DLIR continues to make significant progress in the processing of Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) claims. The department is proceeding with redetermining PUA appeals filed instead of sending the disputes to the appeals referee. The re-determinations found as valid claims are paid much more quickly than appeals decisions.
For more information about unemployment insurance and other labor issues, visit the page of frequently asked questions at labor.hawaii.gov/covid-19-labor-faqs/.
Source: The Garden Island