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State adds resources to help unemployed

MONTPELIER — The Vermont Department of Labor, overwhelmed with claims for unemployment benefits and questions from business owners and workers during the COVID-19 crisis, has increased its staff, added a second phone line, and created an electronic form for initial unemployment claims, according to a Wednesday afternoon press release.
Those actions follow persistent problems reported about the DOL being unable to answer its main unemployment insurance claims line due to the volume of calls. 
The electronic form, created in conjunction with the Agency of Digital Services, will allow workers to establish an initial claim with the DOL electronically. The electronic form is also mobile-ready, according to the agency press release. 
In addition to the electronic form, the DOL has tripled the number of staff at its Unemployment Insurance Claims Center and has added what it called “a supplementary number” for the intake of initial claims. 
The DOL has also expanded benefits for workers who have been temporarily laid off, removed a work-search requirement for those with a return-to-work date, and are taking steps to shorten the time it takes for benefits to be issued.
The additional phone number created for the establishing of initial claims will be answered by staff from the DOL’s regional offices around the state, who will also help claimants to fill out electronic forms.  
However, the DOL, due to the significant number of claims, will close some regional offices to the public, while others will provide services by appointment or by electronic means. Those wishing to make an appointment may contact their local Career Resource Center.
Those looking to establish an initial claim may contact the DOL by first calling the main claims number, 1-877-214-3330. 
The supplemental initial claim intake number is 1-888-807-7072.
The electronic form is available at appengine.egov.com/apps/vt/dol/unemploymentinsuranceclaim.
That link will be posted at vermont.gov and at labor.vermont.gov.

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