DH was offered the chance to do some contract work by some former colleagues who needed his skill-set to help with a grant proposal. He would have done it for free as a favor, but they had money for it so they wanted to pay. It also turned out to be more work than they initially said it would be.
Before he agreed, I was like, what will this do to your employment insurance? And he said that he’d looked it up and they would prorate it and then give it back if he ran out of weeks (that is, he could stay on unemployment insurance a little longer up to the amount that he was prorated). He would have to declare the weeks he actually worked, not when he sent in the invoice or when he actually got paid. (He has not yet been paid.)
Turns out that they don’t ask for all of the information that they need on the form to declare contract work. We found this out later. Here’s how we got to that part:
So three weeks after he turned his stub in, I noticed he hadn’t been paid the week before like he should have been. So he went on the online site and it said there was a problem with his unemployment insurance and they had stopped it and he needed to call some number.
So he called the number and it said leave your number to call back. So he did. Then he waited a few days and the weekend and a few days and nobody called back. So he called again and was on hold for over an hour (maybe an hour and a half?) then that office sent him to another office and he was on hold for a while, but under an hour. Then he got someone and was giving them his information and the other person’s phone went out (are they doing this from home? was it a cellphone?) So DH was like, surely they will call me back (HAHAHAHA), but of course they did not!
So the next day DH looked up what to do on reddit, and they gave him the number for the place he’d been transferred to rather than the first place, so he would only have to be on hold for part of the time. Except, that second number was overburdened so instead of being on hold, it would give a message that it was overburdened and to try again later. Reddit says this is normal and to just keep trying. So he did. And eventually he got through, after maybe half an hour of continuously redialing. Then they got his information, then got the information for the place he contracted from *which they could have requested online when he declared income,* but didn’t. They didn’t even tell him they’d cut off his benefits. He just … didn’t get them. They have his email address and could have sent him something, but they didn’t. They could have warned him this would happen when he submitted the form.
This is a hurdle. This is not an accident. They could fix it but have chosen not to. Probably because they want people who can do contract work to give up on trying to get their unemployment benefits back and just to stay employed. What it does instead, of course, is it keeps people from taking contract work because it’s just too much effort to declare (something I suspected when my sister’s boyfriend offered DH some contract work), and it causes people to get paid under the table or to just not report earnings. (DH would never do that, but he would certainly do something for free instead of for pay because of the known effort cost!) Since contract work often becomes full-time work, this could be costing people jobs.
This process is irritating to us and I was like, we need to pay someone to hit redial! But imagine for people who actually need that money because they don’t have a high earning spouse. How frustrating and terrifying. And how many hours does it take away from actually looking for a job or getting education or taking care of kids etc. Not to mention the time of the people answering the phones for something that could have been collected online when it was initially declared.
Stupid administrative burden.
Have you ever dealt with your state’s unemployment insurance system? Did it work smoothly or did you have any problems?