The RI Department of Labor and Training is bringing back 11 previously laid-off employees to help staff the Unemployment Insurance Call Center. These staff will help manage the current claim load, which is greater than originally expected now that the Federal Emergency Unemployment Compensation (EUC) program has been renewed for an additional year. The current weekly claim load for all Unemployment Insurance programs is 28,000 claims, 8,000 of which are related to the federal EUC program.
Director Charles J. Fogarty acknowledges that many Unemployment Insurance customers have had difficulty reaching the department due to clogged phone lines, and says, "We understand that we need more people in the call center to handle the current volume of Unemployment Insurance claims. Hopefully, this latest influx of trained and knowledgeable staff will help us improve our customer service." Fogarty adds that in addition to adding staff in the short term, the department is also seeking technology upgrades and changes in workflow to help improve claims processing in the long term.
In July 2012, 50 of the department's 150 Unemployment Insurance staffers were laid off due to reduced availability of federal funding. However, through a variety of federal initiatives and grants, the department had been able to bring back 22 of those staffers in the fall. The latest influx of staff will bring the total of recalled staffers to 33. lt is important to note that these 33 positions are considered temporary and are funded through September 2013 only.