Maintaining unemployment benefits is as easy as dialing a phone number, it would seem. I wish I could tell you how many times I’ve answered the phone at my business, only to hear the person on the other end methodically ask me if we’re hiring. Regardless of what I say, an overwhelming majority of those calls ends quickly as they hang up. Now bear in mind, the caller has no idea if I am a hiring authority. If they call in May and the answer happens to be yes, I can count on one hand how many have maintained the call long enough for me to give details. It wasn’t long before such calls really began to annoy me.
The frequency picked up as the recession worsened. Of course, as employment levels suffer, unemployment benefit claims rise. It then occurred to me that those calls were not sincere attempts to gain employment at my establishment, but rather they were required activity in order to maintain their state unemployment benefits. Calling me, asking that question, then hanging up constituted a job search, which is the key requirement to receiving the weekly check from the state.
Like every business, I pay taxes to the state. Part of that sum is put aside by the state of Oregon into an employment account. My contribution is specified and when someone becomes involuntarily unemployed and they file for benefits, my account is charged if my business was one of the last three to employ them. That is to say, should I terminate someone who then goes on to get another job somewhere else and they then get laid off there, when they file for unemployment my account is charged. Due to extensions granted by the state, this can go on for a very long time as long as that person is “looking for work.” A five second call to me, or to any business that answers the phone, satisfies this requirement.
Although I firmly believe that safety nets of some kind need to exist, I resent that the state behemoth can be so lax in knowing or understanding how so many can manipulate them into free money at no cost, other than to businesses. Being that I typically employ a younger person, it makes sense to me that a 23 year old just out of a job would be tempted to receive a weekly pay check from the state in return for nothing more than a brief phone call. Especially when that can go on indefinitely. Why work when a check just shows up in the mail every week?
Clearly, such a scenario only burdens the private sector even more and certainly does nothing to help that individual in the long run. A sense of entitlement with no effort sets in, and that can have long term, damaging results to our state and country. Although I’m unsure how to fix this specifically, I’d start by perhaps requiring that job search efforts be more substantial and that anyone receiving unemployment benefits needs to be required to work for the state in some capacity. That seems fair and is a good way to at least decrease the burden on the private sector.
I’m amazed at the clarity I gained from taking so many five second calls