WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of Labor has released guidance to states on how to promote equitable access for all workers and jobseekers to unemployment insurance programs.In a Nov. 8, 2023, letter to unemployment insurance systems across the nation, the department’s Employment and Training Administration shared best practices for evaluating and enhancing equitable access through all stages in the unemployment insurance claim process to improve customer experience and state workload efficiency. The new guidance includes technical assistance and tools drawn from various department initiatives and state-based partnerships, including those funded by the American Rescue Plan. It also provides an overview of how states can remove barriers related to race, age, ethnicity, language proficiency, disability status, geographic location or other systemic issues that can create obstacles for people seeking to access unemployment benefits. “Ensuring equitable access to unemployment insurance benefits gives workers and their families peace of mind by providing economic stability in the face of job loss,” explained Acting Assistant Secretary for Employment and Training Brent Parton. “The guidance provided today serves that goal and offers actionable methods to remove long-standing barriers to accessing unemployment insurance programs.” The guidance also includes requirements for state agencies and offers instruction on how to apply equitable access rules in their unemployment insurance programs. The department’s Employment and Training Administration and Civil Rights Center worked collaboratively to incorporate provisions of federal nondiscrimination and equal opportunity regulations to provide states with consistent guidance on how to meet or exceed legal obligations. “The Department of Labor is committed to enhancing equity everywhere,” said Civil Right Center Director Naomi Barry-Perez. “A part of the department’s Equity Action Plan, this initiative will improve access to unemployment insurance for everyone who needs it, especially those considered among the most vulnerable.” Read the new unemployment insurance program letter.
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