The RI Department of Labor and Training has announced that beginning Monday, July 2, 2012, its Unemployment Insurance call center will observe the following schedule:
Mondays: 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
Tuesday: 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
Wednesdays: 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.
Thursdays: 8:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.
Fridays: 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.
Until July, the call center will remain open until 3:00 p.m. on Thursdays and Fridays, as has been its practice for the last several years.
The department is adjusting its call center hours in anticipation of staffing cuts planned for later this summer. Because of federal funding availability, the Unemployment Insurance program has issued layoff notices to 53 staff members among its call center, adjudication and management personnel. This represents a reduction of more than one-third of the 153 positions currently operating in the program.
At present, call wait times on Mondays and Tuesdays—the busiest days for the Unemployment Insurance—have averaged 30 and 28 minutes respectively. The department estimates that, once staff reductions have occurred, Monday wait times may increase by 10 to 20 minutes, while Tuesday wait times may increase from five to 15 minutes.
TheRI Department of Labor and Training is urging new Unemployment Insurance claimants to file for benefits online at www.dlt.ri.gov if possible, rather than to rely on telephone filing. Currently, more than 50 percent of claimants use the online claims-filing system. The department is currently its internet-based claims-filing system, and it hopes to transition its Unemployment Insurance program to an exclusively online system by the end of Fiscal Year 2013. At that time, the call center would cease to take telephone claims and would focus on customer service assistance.