Reversing course, Texas will delay work-search requirement for unemployment benefits

The Texas Workforce Commission Building in Austin on March 30, 2020.
The Texas Workforce Commission Building in Austin on March 30, 2020.
Miguel Gutierrez Jr./The Texas Tribune

The Texas Workforce Commission decided Tuesday to postpone reinstating a work-search requirement for out-of-work Texans receiving unemployment benefits.

The requirement that Texans be actively searching for a job in order to receive benefits was initially slated to go into effect Monday. But the TWC’s executive director cited rising numbers of coronavirus cases and hospitalizations across Texas — as well as Gov. Greg Abbott’s June 26 executive order scaling back the reopening of Texas businesses — in the commission’s decision to postpone the reinstatement, according to TWC spokesperson Cisco Gamez.

“Work search requirements have been paused,” Gamez wrote in an email. “We will continue to monitor the situation [and] come back to the commission in late July with recommendations regarding reinstatement.”

The requirement would have mandated that when requesting unemployment benefits, out-of-work Texans prove they engaged in at least three work-search activities. Self-employed workers would have had to prove they took at least three steps to reopen their businesses.

Gamez originally defended the July 6 reinstatement of the work-search requirement, noting that the searches can be performed remotely in order to avoid exposure to the coronavirus.

“Work search activities can be completed at home without potential exposure to COVID-19,” he wrote in a June 16 email to the Texas Tribune.

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