House proposal would award NC's unemployed up to $1,500 for securing a job

Josh Chapin Image
Friday, May 21, 2021
House Bill would award NC's unemployed up to $1,500 for securing a job
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A bill circulating in the General Assembly would award unemployed North Carolinians up to $1,500 for solidifying their space in the workforce.

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Just this week, Randy Hernandez hired two people to wash dishes at his Casa Cubana restaurant in Wake Forest.

He planned to pay them $15 per hour and give them a $300 bonus after three months -- but they never showed.

"I texted them today, asked them what happened and no response," Hernandez said, who is also having to work extra hours at his Latin-inspired Red Monkey in Crabtree Valley Mall.

However, things may have been different if the employees had some extra monetary motivation.

That's where House Bill 128 comes into play.

HB 128, also known as "An Act to Reemploy North Carolina's Workforce", is one of the latest proposals from Republicans circulating in the North Carolina General Assembly; it would incentivize the state's unemployed to get back into the workforce by paying them up to $1,500.

Republicans lawmakers said you would be eligible for the jackpot if you took a job before June 1, 2021, and if you took one before July 1, 2021, you would receive $800.

The money isn't handed out for free, you would have to meet the following requirements:

  • Clarify that those receiving unemployment insurance benefits must make three job contacts per week.
  • Require claimants to respond to interview requests by an employer offering suitable work within
  • 48 hours using the contact information provided by the employer.
  • Require claimants to schedule an interview with an employer within seven days of the interview request, or outside of seven days if mutually agreed to by both parties.
  • Require claimants to attend reemployment activities associated with the interview request if those activities are required by an employer in their normal course of recruitment.
  • Permit employers to report to DES that a claimant has not responded to interview requests, refused to schedule an interview within seven days of the interview request, or failed to appear for a scheduled interview. It would require DES to audit those reports submitted by employers.
  • Disqualify a claimant for any remaining unemployment insurance benefit if the claimant fails, absent good cause, to do any of the following three or more times during a benefit year:
  • Require DES to audit at least twenty-five percent (25%) of all weekly certifications filed with the Division each week.
  • Require DES to utilize a third-party firm when necessary to satisfy the audit requirements of the bill.

The proposal would require the state to dip into federal unemployment supplements to pay for the bonuses.

However, HB 128 needs federal approval and would cut off benefits for those who refuse jobs or skip interviews. It also said those receiving unemployment benefits must make three job contacts per week.

Until the bill makes decent headway, double-restaurant owner Randy Hernandez will have to continue his hiring search.

"I have three servers, I'm almost at full house right now and that's all I can bring in is three servers," Hernandez said.

To get by, Hernandez has to close shop on Mondays. The other days, he opens an hour later and closes a half-hour earlier and pushes the staff he has on the weekends.

"I don't really know what else we can possibly do," he said.