Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)
Workforce Solutions office locations across West Central Texas have resumed in-person services to customers by appointment only on the following schedule:
- Abilene Workforce Center: Monday-Friday
- Brownwood Workforce Center: Tuesdays and Thursdays
- Eastland Workforce Center: Thursdays
- Snyder Workforce Center: Mondays and Wednesdays (new location at College on the Square)
- Sweetwater Workforce Center: Tuesdays and Thursdays
All appointments must be scheduled in advance. A full slate of virtual services to workers, employers, area families, and child care providers also remains available.
Health & Safety Measures
The health and safety of our customers, staff, employers, partners, and area families is of utmost importance to us. We are closely monitoring guidance issued by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), World Health Organization (WHO), public health officials, and government agencies to stay informed and responsive. We are taking the following steps in our Centers:
- Providing guidance to staff on recommended health and safety practices.
- Offering information and services to job seekers, employers, early childhood programs and parents virtually via web chat, phone, online tools and services, Facebook Live sessions, and more.
- Deep cleaning and regular sanitation using electrostatic sprayers at all locations.
- Delivering in-person services by appointment only to ensure adequate spacing and cleaning can occur.
- Following additional health and safety protocols that promote social distancing and meet other state and local COVID-19 guidelines.
Face coverings are recommended when visiting all Center locations, and required at the Snyder Office at College on the Square. As new information is released, we will continue to make adjustments and stay in close communication with staff and customers.
Work Search Requirements Have Resumed
The Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) has announced that work search requirements for Unemployment Insurance (UI) in Texas will return effective November 1, 2020. All individuals receiving unemployment benefits will need to complete the designated number of work searches, beginning on the date listed in their work search notification document. The work search notification document can be found in their correspondence inbox online or U.S. Postal Mailbox.
- View the full announcement
Guidance for Continued Eligibility
Each UI benefits case is currently evaluated on an individual basis. However, because of the COVID-19 emergency, the following are reasons benefits would be granted if the individual refused suitable work.
- At High Risk – People 65 years or older are at a higher risk for getting very sick from COVID-19 (Source DSHS website)
- Household member at high risk – People 65 years or older are at a higher risk of getting very sick from COVID-19 (source DSHS website).
- Diagnosed with COVID - the individual has tested positive for COVID-19 by a source authorized by the State of Texas and is not recovered.
- Family member with COVID - anybody in the household has tested positive for COVID-19 by a source authorized by the State of Texas and is not recovered and 14 days have not yet passed.
- Quarantined – individual is currently in 14-day quarantine due to close contact exposure to COVID-19.
- Child care – Child’s school or daycare closed and no alternatives are available.
Any other situation will be subject to a case by case review by the Texas Workforce Commission based on individual circumstances.
The Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) is reminding all unemployment claimants and unemployed workers to practice caution when providing people with personally identifiable information. Unfortunately, in situations such as the one we are experiencing because of COVID-19, there can be unemployment insurance scams and fraudulent phone calls.
Below are some indications that you may be a victim of an attempted scam by someone pretending to be a TWC Specialist:
- The individual asks for a credit card number.
- The individual says there is a fee for processing the claim.
- The individual asks for more than the last four digits of your bank account and routing number.
When you are contacted by a legitimate TWC Specialist they will need to confirm your identity and will ask for your Social Security Number and date of birth. However, a TWC Specialist will never ask for a credit card number or state that there is any kind of fee associated with your claim. There is no fee for filing for UI and a TWC Specialist cannot change banking information, so the full number is unnecessary.
If you have to close your business either temporarily or permanently and need to lay off employees, you may be able to submit a mass claim for unemployment benefits on their behalf. The Mass Claims program streamlines the unemployment benefit claims process for employers faced with either temporary or permanent layoffs. Employers can submit basic worker information on behalf of their employees to initiate claims for unemployment benefits. You can submit a mass claim request on Employer Benefits Services (EBS) 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
If your business has slowed down due to COVID-19 and you need to reduce employee working hours, you may be able to avoid laying off workers by submitting a Shared Work Plan. Apply by logging on to Employer Benefits Services (EBS) and submit your Shared Work Plan online. EBS online is fast, easy, secure, and available 24/7/365.
Conducting Job Interviews During COVID-19
In light of COVID-19, here are some tips and best practices for interviewing job candidates remotely.
Teleconference or Video Conference
Teleconference and video conference are acceptable interview options. In conducting such interviews, The Society of Human Resource Management (SHRM) and LinkedIn Learning recommend that hiring managers:
Treat teleconference and video conference interviews with the same seriousness as in-person interviews. Know the job description, the candidate’s resume and specific questions to ask. Choose a quiet, well-lit room for interviews. Make sure all parties have the correct interview time on their calendar. On the day of the interview, have your interview questions, notes and files available in an orderly fashion so there’s no need to shuffle around while you’re interviewing the applicant. Being unprepared can create awkward pauses.
Give candidates advance notice that interviews will be conducted virtually, and make sure your team is on the same page. Underscore that this is being done to protect their health (and yours). Once your candidates know their interviews will be held virtually — and why — reach out and give them the details of their interviews, just as you would if the interview was taking place onsite. Useful information to share includes:
- Tips on how to access videoconferencing technology. Let the candidate know how to access any necessary technology and whether software needs to be downloaded.
- Details of their interview start and end times and the names and titles of each person they will meet.
- Finally, as an added precaution, give them a backup phone number to reach you in case there is a glitch or the technology gets wonky. Ask them to share the same with you.
Check Your Tech
Double-check the technology you will be using and ask the candidate to do the same. To minimize technical hiccups, do a test run before your interviews. Remember that even if you have held phone or video interviews from work, it is going to be different holding them from your home office or kitchen. Make sure your signal strength is adequate and the camera and microphone both work and are set up so the candidate can easily see and hear you.
Child Care Work Requirements Resume on Nov. 1st & Extended Eligibility Ends
The COVID-19 waiver allowing unemployed families to continue receiving assistance with child care costs indefinitely is set to expire. Effective November 1, 2020, the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) will reinstate the rule requiring parents to become reemployed or enrolled in an educational/training program within three months of a permanent job loss in order to continue receiving subsidized child care benefits.
Parents who have already received three or more months of child care benefits when the extended eligibility period ends will be granted an additional four weeks to meet work or education requirements. This means all parents currently receiving assistance through the Child Care Services (CCS) program will continue to receive those benefits at minimum through Friday, Nov. 27th.
TWC Child Care Attendance: Reinstatement of Absence Policies ON HOLD
On June 16, 2020, the Texas Workforce Commission took action to reinstate requirements for the parents of children receiving Child Care Services (CCS) to record their child’s daily attendance, to become effective July 20, 2020. Children are generally allowed 40 unexplained absences during a year. However, parents have not been required to record their attendance since mid-March, when the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic was first being felt across the state. TWC did not want to penalize parents who were unable to take their children to child care or were unable to record attendance, based on the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions.
Given the recent uptick in COVID-19 cases in the state, the Commission revisited this policy on July 14, 2020 and took action to hold reinstatement of the absence policy.
What Providers Need to Do:
- Continue to report weekly attendance data for subsidized children in accordance with your Local Board’s policies.
- If you are ordered to close by a state or local health authority due to COVID, notify your Local Board/CCS offices about your status (in addition to notifying Child Care Licensing).
Call (325) 795-4200 or email our Child Care Services staff with questions.
Quick Links on COVID-19
- Guidance for Businesses & Employers
- Guidance for School & Child Care Settings
- Guidance to Protect Yourself & Your Family
- Guidance & Support for Small Businesses
- Guidance for Individuals with Disabilities
- Centers for Disease Control & Prevention
- Texas Health & Human Services
- Texas Education Agency Info for Districts
- World Health Organization (WHO) Q&A
- FAQ Handout (Updated: 3/13/2020) YouTube Video
- Governor’s Committee on People with Disabilities YouTube Channel
- Texas Education Agency Resources for Students with Disabilities
- Checklist for Companies with Remote Workers
- Q&A from the Office of the Commissioner Representing Employers
- Questions About Unemployment Insurance & COVID-19
- Texas Dept. of Agriculture COVID-19 Resource Guide
- Texas Workforce Commission Resources for Employers
- Texas Workforce Commission Resources for Small Businesses Linked In Social Network
- Tips for Conducting Virtual Interviews
- Unemployment Benefit Claim Overview (Employers)