FORT MYERS, Fla – Floridians on unemployment are dealing with a big change this week. In order to get their next check, they have to prove they're looking for a job.
Many claimants have reached out to Fox 4 with questions since the governor reinstated the work search requirement. We took those questions straight to CareerSource Southwest Florida to get them answered.
CareerSource Southwest Florida said its phones have been ringing off the hook this week. Their appointment schedule is full, but they are also accepting walk-ins and said there have been plenty of those as well.
For months, it says its employees have been preparing for this. They're ready to help you find your next career and make sure you're getting the benefits you're entitled to in the meantime.
One important question we worked to get answered is in regard to the number of searches you need. CareerSource Southwest Florida said that all depends on which county you live in.
“Lee and Collier County and Charlotte, they’re required five work searches a week. But if you’re in smaller counties, let’s say like Hendry or Glades, up to three is sufficient,” said Janeth Castrejon, Communications Manager at CareerSource Southwest Florida. “If you're not sure, come and see us so we can verify that and help you step by step to make sure you’re not going to lose those benefits.”
But what about if you get offered a job that you're not ready to take?
“If you are proving that you did receive that offer, but for whatever reason, it could be you're still not comfortable with COVID, it could be that you have childcare issues, it could be so many different issues. We want to make sure that you don't lose those benefits so please give us a call so we can individualize that concern,” said Castrejon.
You might be wondering what that means and how they can do that. There's been a lot of misinformation out there that if you get offered a job and turn it down, you won't be able to get benefits anymore. But Castrejon explained some scenarios that they can help with.
“Once you get to that step where there's a job, it could be various reasons as to why you did not accept the job. What I've been hearing from some of our job seekers is that they may not give you the full 40 hours a week you need. They may not give you the minimum you need for a livable wage. So at that point then, we go ahead and sit down with you and talk to you on how you can go ahead and place a claim on your benefits services so you don't lose that particular week payment of benefits,” said Castrejon.
A full list of CareerSource Southwest Florida locations can be found here.