Georgia’s Department of Labor to remain closed, keeping services online

Published: Jul. 1, 2020 at 10:53 AM CDT
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By Amanda Aguilar | June 25, 2020 at 6:21 PM EDT - Updated June 25 at 6:57 PM

GEORGIA (WTOC) - While Georgia saw it’s unemployment claims drop by more than 500,000 in May, many Georgians are still having issues getting payments, even getting in touch with someone at the Department of Labor.

WTOC has received several emails from viewers about when the offices will reopen.

Georgia's Department of Labor employees report to the office everyday, while it remains closed to the public. The commissioner tells me, due to safety reasons, services will remain online or over the phone for the time being.

While much of Georgia has reopened, Commissioner Mark Butler says there are no immediate plans to open Department of Labor offices.

"There's nothing you can not do online or over the telephone that you can do in person."

Butler says opening offices to the public creates an unsafe environment for everyone inside the building.

Despite unemployment claims dropping in May, He says the Department cannot even risk one employee getting infected with COVID-19.

“We cannot. We cannot stand losing one person, much less possibly 40 people in an office, especially when you’re talking an office the size of Savannah. You lose that much bandwidth over a period of days, and you’re easily behind thousand of cases.

The commissioner says the Department of Labor is looking at different tools to create more efficiency in serving customers, such as a way to sign up for a telephone appointment, but he says that could take awhile to set up.

Top viewer questions

“Who? Who is handling this? Who is sending me these? Who is sending me these every week? What department? There’s no phone number to call.”

Wayne Cox is frustrated, just like many unemployed Georgians who have been laid off.

“They have had all the information for two to three months and I have gotten no response back for any of this, none. Whenever I go in to check my weekly claim status, it says no earnings made,” said Cox.

After describing Cox’s situation to Commissioner Mark Butler, he called it a “complex case” that could have several issues.

How do they go about helping you guys getting these issues figured out and corrected, when they can’t get in contact with anyone?

“Well people are getting in contact with us because we are solving cases every single day. It is definitely difficult,” said Butler.

We asked Butler a list of questions from viewers.

“My employer did submit these claims, it was like they were going nowhere all of a sudden,” said Sara Kriwox who is unemployed.

“When they say they’ve submitted and it didn’t come through. They didn’t change the date ending for the week, so basically what they’ve done is they’ve refiled for a week they’ve already filed for,” said Butler.

Former Gulfstream employees reached out to WTOC about why they can’t submit an individual claim, now that their employer has stopped filing for them.

“Probably what the confusion is, is they’re going in and trying to claim an additional week based on the claim their employer filed. No, it will not let them because that claim is no longer valid.”

Butler says every claim is different, so he couldn't give an exact answer without knowing the whole situation.

However, Butler says there is a delay in the system, as many people are filing two to five claims, which creates unnecessary work for DOL staff.

"You're taking individuals off their job of doing one thing to fix these other issues."

Commissioner Butler understands Georgians frustrations and concerns, but stresses patience. He says people can also reach out to the Department of Labor on its social media sites, like Facebook and Twitter.

Copyright 2020 WTOC. All rights reserved.

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