The photo ID era is about to begin – for state unemployment benefits.
Next week, the state Division of Employment Security plans to start sending notices to newly unemployed workers informing them they have four weeks to present a photo ID, such as a driver’s license, at their local Division of Workforce Solutions. Both agencies are part of the state Department of Commerce.
The new photo ID requirement, which initially was targeted to begin Feb. 1 but was delayed, is aimed at preventing fraudulent claims from being filed by people who steal someone else’s identity.
At the same time, it’s being combined with a new initiative designed to help unemployed workers find a job sooner.
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Workers who go to their local Workforce office – presumably with their photo ID in hand – also will receive a face-to-face counseling session about their job search. Such sessions, which were mandated by the law passed last year that overhauled the state’s unemployment benefits system, also will be used to verify that an unemployed worker is seeking a job – a requirement for receiving unemployment checks.
“I want to emphasize, this is one-on-one discussions with people who are unemployed,” Will Collins, special assistant for workforce development, told legislators at a committee meeting Wednesday. “We’re going to help them find jobs and opportunities to get back to work earlier.”
Unemployed workers will receive a skills assessment, information about jobs that fit their skills, labor market and career information, a “customized employability development plan,” and other pertinent information.
“For example, if someone finds that certain training is required for a position at a company, we are going to let them know where they can get this training,” Collins said.
If people don’t show up for their job counseling sessions and present a photo ID, “their benefits are going to end,” said Dale Folwell, who heads the Division of Employment Security.
Folwell told legislators that if the new system “goes perfectly well, no one is ever going to hear about it. But if it goes wrong, all of you are going to hear about it.”
Last year, the legislature also passed a law that requires voters to present government-issued photo IDs beginning in 2016. That law is being challenged in state and federal courts.