The Reemployment Assistance Program provides unemployment insurance benefits to eligible individuals who are out of work through no fault of their own. Individuals who may be eligible during the COVID-19 public health crisis may include those who are quarantined by a doctor or government agency, laid off or sent home without pay for an extended period, or are caring for family diagnosed with COVID-19.
Although the program is meant to aid, I have identified major barriers such as the requirement for applicants to search for work - which doesn't make sense given there are no jobs. In addition, applicants must file through an online portal that is not accessible on mobile devices, and libraries are closed - hindering residents’ access to computers and internet. Workers have also complained that the website is not user friendly and frequently crashes.
On Wednesday, I joined State Senator Jose Javier Rodriguez and leaders of our local unions on a video press event to discuss these barriers and to pressure the Governor to take swift action. I thank Senator Rodriguez, Unite Here Local 355, SEIU 32BJ, and Florida AFL-CIO for their leadership on this issue.
Since then, I am pleased that Governor DeSantis has publicly acknowledged that changes in Florida's unemployment system are required and that an executive order waiving certain requirement is forthcoming. See the letter I wrote to him outlining the changes we recommend. I've also been in touch with community organizations that help with completing applications to develop a way to continue services virtually or through an appointment system.
While we are working on developing solutions, visit the program website to begin preparing the necessary documents you can also reference the Reemployment Assistance COVID-19 Frequently Asked Questions section for more information at http://www.floridajobs.org/.
Commissioner Eileen Higgins District 5