RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) —  The Virginia Employment Commission announced on Tuesday that it will begin requiring people who are receiving unemployment benefits to start applying for at least two jobs a week.

Megan Healy, Chief Workforce Advisor for Gov. Northam, said this will go into effect on June 1.

VEC said the active job search requirement is part of state and federal law but was temporarily suspended by Northam in March 2020 in response to the influx of unemployment claims at the start of the coronavirus pandemic. VEC said they have received 1.5 million claims since the pandemic began, which is more than a 1,000% increase from the previous year.

Healy said the reinstatement of the requirement coincides with schools and childcare centers reopening, as well as vaccine eligibility opening up to all adults. Plus she says employers are desperate for workers. 

“Customers are normally required to actively look for work while collecting unemployment benefits,” said Ellen Marie Hess, commissioner of the VEC. “With increased vaccination access, first in the nation workplace safety regulations, and a robust demand for workers from businesses, Virginia will resume collecting and reviewing work search activity of customers in the near future.”

These requirements will apply to all people receiving unemployment benefits including those receiving Pandemic Unemployment Assistance. The requirements are as follows:

  • People receiving unemployment will be required to apply for at least two jobs a week to receive benefits.
  • Individuals will have to provide details of their job search activity to the VEC for review every week.
  • If a person does not do the required job search they will not be eligible for benefits.

VEC said it will notify people impacted with more details about these changes in May.

Healy added there will be some waivers for work search requirements to encourage people to go back to school or get training.

The commission said it will be working with Virginia Career Works Centers across the state to help people find jobs.

“We are here to help unemployed Virginians successfully rejoin the state’s workforce,” Hess said. “And to help connect job seekers with the additional resource services they may need to return to work, including child care.”

Healy said the state has held several job fairs with thousands of participants.

“We need people to go back to work to get back to the economy we had before the pandemic,” Healy said in an interview with 8News. “We are going to provide every support we can to make sure people are comfortable to go back to work and that is through safety on the job, vaccinations and childcare. We also have additional supports to pay for training and education and wrap around supports like transportation.” 

You can find more information about this change and other requirements online here.