ALERT: Legislature to Vote Soon on Unemployment Claims Processing Reform!

[Sent via email on 3/27/21]

Dear friend of ULP:

The final hurdles have been crossed and SB 5193, an important bill, backed by ULP, which will improve many aspects of unemployment claims processing at the Employment Security Department (ESD), will be voted on at any time.

Key committees in the House of Representatives have okayed the measure and any day now, it will go to the floor for a vote before the full chamber.

The Senate already voted Yes on an earlier version of the bill. Some differences between the bills remain to be ironed out and then, with a Yes vote in the House, Washington will have several new provisions to protect claimants from the snarls, dead ends, and delays many encountered over the last 12 months when they were desperately in need of the unemployment benefits they had earned through their work.

SB 5193 requires ESD to:

  • Launch a training program to create a pool of adjudicators to have in reserve when unemployment claims levels surge.
  • Use plain language, tested on claimants for comprehensibility, in all letters, alerts, and notices;
  • Clearly explain the law behind determinations and redeterminations, the relevant facts, the reasoning, the decision and the result;
  • Explore: thresholds that trigger automatic adjustments in staffing, a pilot to provide a caseworker approach to benefit claims, and increased language access;
  • Dedicate a toll-free number for claimants with limited computer access or computer skills;
  • Maintain an online data dashboard, and provide quarterly reports with performance metrics that include updates of unemployment rates, claims data, claims center phone statistics, staffing ratios, overpayment data, and other information.
  • Report quarterly to the legislature on various other claims processing issues.

Please help SB 5193 cross the finish line!

Contact your legislators today and request their support for this measure urgently needed to protect Washington’s more than 3 million workers.

To find your state representatives and senator, use this link:

Thank you for your help in ensuring that our unemployment benefits system provides support that Washington workers and their families can count on.

Anne Paxton
Attorney & Policy Director
Unemployment Law Project

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