Committee Work

D.C. Council Announces Public Roundtable on Unemployment Insurance

Councilmember Elissa Silverman, Chairperson of the Committee on Labor and Workforce Development, and Councilmember Robert C. White, Jr., Chairperson of the Committee on Government Operations and Facilities, will hold a joint public oversight roundtable on the District’s unemployment compensation programs and related contracts.  The roundtable will be held over two days:  May 5, 2021, at 9 a.m. for public witness testimony and May 12, 2021,  at 9 a.m. for government witness and contractor testimony. The Committees have invited leadership of On Point, which operates the claimants’ online portal, and Capitol Bridge, which has been contracted to augment the UI call center, to attend.

Tune in on DC Cable Channel 13 and online at www.dccouncil.us.


Follow-up Letter from DOES Director on Unemployment Insurance Issues

On March 11, Councilmember Elissa Silverman, chair of the DC Council's Labor and Workforce Development Committee, sent a letter highlighting four ways for the District to resolve unemployment insurance issues. The letter to Department of Employment Services Director Unique Morris-Hughes came after the Department's performance oversight hearing, where councilmembers heard from dozens of witnesses who could not get issues resolved with the Department.

Director Morris-Hughes initially responded with a letter to committee members on April 7, and we received follow-up correspondence on April 19.


DOES Director Responds to Labor Committee's March 11 Letter on Addressing Unemployment Insurance Issues

On March 11, Councilmember Elissa Silverman, chair of the DC Council's Labor and Workforce Development Committee, sent a letter highlighting four ways for the District to resolve unemployment insurance issues. The letter to Department of Employment Services Director Unique Morris-Hughes came after the Department's performance oversight hearing, where councilmembers heard from dozens of witnesses who could not get issues resolved with the Department.

Director Morris-Hughes responded on April 7. Here are some important points:

  • While the Director would not promise a claims processing "blitz," DOES has hired 100 new contract staff adjudicators who will be concentrating on processing all remaining claims.
  • Again, there will be no "blitz," but staff at DOES will work to send robocalls and text messages to claimants regarding their right to request higher weekly benefit amounts.
  • Interstate Program Coordinators will continue to reach out daily to their counterparts in Maryland and Virginia regarding DC claimants experiencing difficulties in those jurisdictions.
  • DOES is reviewing the Biden Rescue Plan in order to develop clear guidance and timelines for the new benefit extensions and has issued a fact sheet on the federal plan.

Letter to DOES Director on Implementation of American Rescue Plan Changes

In a letter to the Director of the DC Department of Employment Services, I emphasized that all claimants need to be alerted in plain language how the Biden Rescue Plan will benefit them, how long it will take to implement changes, and what problems they may encounter and what they can do to resolve them. You can read the letter here.


American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 Extends Unemployment Benefits

The federal American Rescue Plan extended four unemployment programs. Individuals receiving either PUA or PEUC benefits will NOT have to reapply to continue to receive their benefits. 

The DC Department of Employment Services is still making updates to the system to reflect the new federal benefit changes. Individuals should keep filing and certifying online every week. The new benefits will extend from March 14 through September 6. The plan also provides an additional $300 per week to anyone receiving benefits March 14 through September 4.

 


Labor Committee Identifies 4 Ways to Improve Common Unemployment Insurance Problems

On March 11th, Councilmember Elissa Silverman, chair of the DC Council's Labor and Workforce Development Committee, sent a letter highlighting four ways for the District to resolve unemployment insurance issues.  The letter, to the Department of Employment Services Director Unique Morris-Hughes, comes after the Department's performance oversight hearing, where councilmembers heard from dozens of witnesses who spent hours and hours calling and emailing the Department but could not get issues resolved.


FY 2021 Performance Oversight and FY 2022 Budget Hearings

***UPDATED 4/21 WITH NEW BUDGET HEARING DATES***

In Spring 2021, the Committee on Labor and Workforce Development will hold hearings on the performance of the agencies within its jurisdiction and and the proposed FY2022 budgets of those agencies. The schedule is below and may be found online at https://dccouncil.us/2020-2021-performance-oversight-fy-2022-budget-schedules/. We welcome testimony from the public and have several ways to submit testimony. Instructions for testifying follow. **Please note the schedule is subject to change.** Additionally, agencies’ responses to the Committee’s written pre-performance hearing questions are posted here: https://dccouncil.us/labor-and-workforce-development-5/


Oversight Roundtable: Universal Paid Family Leave 6 Month Review

On Friday, January 22, 2021, at 10:00 a.m., Councilmember Elissa Silverman, Chairperson of the Committee on Labor and Workforce Development, will hold a roundtable on the District’s universal paid family leave program. The Universal Paid Leave Amendment Act of 2016 (L21-264) established a paid leave system to provide partial wage replacement for District workers in need of leave from work due to serious family illness, personal medical needs, or to care for a new child.  The universal paid leave program began providing benefits to eligible workers on July 1, 2020. At this roundtable, the Committee will hear testimony concerning the first six months of the program. See further information at the full roundtable notice here.


Additional Session: Unemployment Insurance Programs in the District During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Councilmember Elissa Silverman, Chairperson of the Committee on Labor and Workforce Development, announces a public oversight roundtable before the Committee on the District’s unemployment compensation program. The roundtable will consider the challenges District workers continue to face in applying for unemployment insurance benefits under expanded programs available during the COVID-19 pandemic. This notice has been revised to reflect the addition of a second date, December 16, 2020 at 10:00am, when the Department of Employment Services (DOES) is expected to testify.

The full text of the letter sent by Councilmember Elissa Silverman to DOES, which includes advance questions for this additional Oversight Roundtable, can be found here

The hearing will be broadcast live on DC Cable Channel 13 and online at www.dccouncil.us.


 


A Freelancer's Guide to Pandemic Unemployment Assistance

So, you need to apply for unemployment in DC as a freelancer or independent contractor…

Luckily, DC freelancer Lisa Kaneff has put together this excellent resource to guide freelancers through the process of applying for the federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) program. This easy-to-read blog post will walk readers through what the program does, who's eligible, and how to apply. It also includes several helpful tips for navigating the system with the least amount of headache. 

It is important to note, however, that PUA expires at the end of this year. We are hopeful that the Biden Administration will extend PUA or put another aid program in place for our workers not served by traditional Unemployment Insurance, and will share more information if that happens as soon as it becomes available.

Click here to read the full post.