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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2021 - 2022 Regular Session


Posted: April 28, 2021 03:56 PM
From: Senator Lisa Baker
To: All Senate members
Subject: Reinstating Work Search Requirements for UC Claimants
Since last spring and throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Pennsylvania state government has modified its operations and delivery of services in a variety of ways.  One such change was undertaken early last year, when the Department of Labor and Industry exercised its ability to “waive or alter the requirements” found in Section 401 of the Unemployment Compensation law.  More specifically, it suspended the requirements related to the active search for suitable employment and registration with the PA CareerLink database.  Understanding the gravity of the pandemic on individuals and employers, the General Assembly concurred and codified, through Act 9, this suspension until December 31, 2020.  However, without legislative approval or input, the department then extended the suspension indefinitely on January 1, 2021. 
As more vaccines are distributed and the weather permits expanded outdoor activities, it is encouraging that Pennsylvania is on the cusp of economic recovery.  However, a critical component in these economic recovery efforts is maintaining a viable workforce, something that is currently proving very difficult across most job sectors.  Openings in the service and hospitality industries, seasonal and summer employment, retail, and manufacturing sectors  are abundant, yet  I have heard from numerous employers who are concerned about the absence of applicants, even after offering generous sign-on and referral bonuses, increased compensation and benefits, and implementing stringent health and safety protocols. Hopeful for a strong rebound following the lifting of many COVID-19 restrictions, many employers now fear they will be forced to continue to operate at reduced capacity, or worse, because of staffing shortages. 
Legislation to reinstate the job search and PA CareerLink registration requirements is one way to attempt to increase our workforce across the Commonwealth.  As our workforce development professionals have pointed out, job readiness plans and preparation for reemployment are essential for engaging dislocated workers.  This action also sends an important message that the unemployed can safely return to the workforce with viable, family-sustaining jobs awaiting them. 
I hope you will join me in co-sponsoring this important measure to provide help for jobless individuals, employers, and communities looking to restore their economic vitality and tax base.    

Introduced as SB689