Local News

Ask Anything: 10 questions with David Clegg, Employment Security Commission

Posted December 9, 2008
Updated December 19, 2008

Why is there a week waiting period after a person has lost their job before they can start drawing unemployment compensation? – Brunetta Taylor, Zebulon

There is a one week period that follows the filing for unemployment insurance that is not paid to the claimant until the end of the claimant’s payment schedule. This is called the “wait week.”

The reason the wait week exists is to allow the commission to review the claim, contact the employer for separation information and make sure that the claimant is monetarily eligible for unemployment insurance benefits. It prevents fraudulent claims and inadvertent over-payments.

In the last session of the general assembly there was some discussion about doing away with the waiting week. A bill was filed but did not pass and it was determined that removing the waiting week would cost the unemployment insurance trust fund nearly $55 million per year.

I am currently searching for a job and I'm not having any luck, so I would like to know how the Employment Security Commission helps people find jobs. Also will you find a job faster by going through the ESC or by applying directly to a business? Thanks. – Sandy Hartley, Cary

The methods that folks use to find work are changing all of the time. Technology has added more options but the tried and true method of networking is still the basis of the search.

We at ESC want to give the job seeker all of the tools possible to successfully find a job. There are now over 4.3 million people in the labor market in North Carolina and the breadth of job opportunities is remarkable. We offer face-to-face job counseling and job search in our local offices across North Carolina as well as many job fairs that we help host across the state.

Thousands of folks use the Internet at www.ncesc.com and look in our job bank for available positions by occupation or geography. If you find a job you want to pursue, you may seek a referral from our staff.

Employers also check our data bank for those job seekers who have entered their resumes on the SkillNet. Many employers ask ESC to screen their applicants so it is imperative that you seek those jobs through ESC.

We also maintain on the Web site a listing of employers that handle hiring in-house but for whom we also refer qualified applicants. We offer computers in all of our offices to assist with Web-based job search and resume writing and e-mail.

Is there a fraud line for the ESC? I know people who are not out looking for jobs but call the number each week and say they do. When they are confronted with this fact of lying, they say all you have to do is press 1 and you get your money. What can I do as a tax payer when I see fraud like this? – Robert Willis, Smithfield

Sadly, fraud is an issue that we have to deal with on a daily basis, but in terms of our case load it is small.

Last year, more than 298,000 folks received one or more checks from ESC. ESC paid out more than $896 million in benefits. We looked at about 25,000 individual allegations of fraud and found about 4,000 to have merit.

Of those, we secured 209 criminal convictions, currently have 98 pending and the balance we have under repayment orders. You may report fraud by calling ESC at 919-707-1338, or emailing at esc.ui.bpc@ncmail.net.

I was hurt in a work-related accident. I was terminated because of the accident. My workers comp is denied. Why can't I draw unemployment while under a doctor's care? – Brenda Montanye, Franklinton

One of the conditions to receive unemployment insurance compensation is that the claimant be able and available for immediate work. A claimant must be actively seeking work and report to the commission on a weekly basis the results of their job search.

An attachment to the labor market is essential to job search, and if you are unable to work you cannot actively seek to reestablish your relationship to the labor market.

Workers Compensation is designed to help workers who are injured manage their health issues whereas Unemployment Insurance is designed to assist healthy workers reconnect to work.

I am losing my job on Dec. 31 but have been asked to work as a contract worker with a temp agency for a month or so in 2009. I realize my severance pay will determine when unemployment wages start but if I work on a temp basis, will it further delay qualifying for unemployment benefits? – Nancy L., Raleigh

You will not receive unemployment insurance benefits until your severance pay is exhausted unless you use the severance pay as tuition for education related to employment.

ESC will pro rate the severance pay and let you know how many weeks it will suspend your claim. Your contract work will have a bearing on your eligibility for benefits if it extends beyond the prorated period of severance.

Why is the commission so backed up on claims? I filed in October and haven’t heard anything. What’s the possibility I will get a determination in my favor in this case? – Eric Gillespie, Raleigh

The current economy has placed a strain on the resources of ESC. All claims except those filed by an employer during a layoff require an adjudication which is an initial determination of eligibility. We have hired more staff to review these claims both in the central office and in local offices across the state.

Residents can file for benefits in one of our local offices, or at a JobLink center, as well as via the Internet at www.ncesc.com. You may now file for benefits on the telephone by calling 1-877-841-9617 and accessing the voice-activated filing system.

Currently, we are several thousand claims behind the curve, but making substantial progress in insuring that every claimant is treated fairly under the law. Every claim for benefits is given due process and that means that ESC staff reviews your version of the events that led to your separation as well as your employers.

ESC awards benefits to workers who are unemployed through no fault of their own. If you disagree with a decision made by the ESC you have at least four levels of appeal, including superior court.

I had thought about becoming a medical transcriptionist, but I think they might be a dying breed due to technology advances. Do you agree? – Betty Normandin, Pinehurst

The health industry is going to be one of the most robust sectors of the economy. Medical transcription will be expected to grow as an occupational category but it is going to be one that will have to adapt to quickly changing technology. ESC data show that the occupation will grow about 2 percent a year. The average wage for that job now is around $35,000.

A friend of mine was recently laid off and was wondering if he should take out his 401K and deposit it at a different organization? If so, how long does he have before he is penalized? Thanks. – Denise, Wilson

He can leave his 401k alone unless the former employer is forcing a divestment. Normally, that is not the case as the account probably has a plan administrator. The plan administrator keeps the account balance until it is moved into a new qualifying account at the new employer’s depository.

Even though a self employed individual can have a 401k, with the economy as it is right now and assuming the depository is sound, I would leave it alone. I would not want to risk the 20 percent penalty for early withdrawal or risk not making the 60-day time limit for reinvestment. I would not make a move with out consulting the plan administrator.

How would someone go about getting a government job, meaning civil service or otherwise? The process seems very cloudy and you get no feedback if you do apply. – James T., Holly Springs

In North Carolina, all of the jobs that are available in state government appear on the Web site of the Office of State Personnel (OSP). The application process is not handled by OSP but by the individual department.

I know that OSP would be interested to know if you feel your application is not being handled properly by a specific department. At ESC, we acknowledge all applications for our positions.

Check the OSP site frequently for it is updated all of the time. Also, OSP has a system called “Temporary Solutions” that seek to provide part time and short term placements in state agencies. Sometimes these positions can evolve into full time placements.

If a person is fired from a job, how do you word it on an application so that they will not automatically reject the application? Terminated, dismissed, fired all hold negative impressions. How do you explain a termination? – Colette, Raleigh

In the world of work as is exists today, changing jobs is a natural part of the economic process. Layoffs, cutbacks, retooling, right-sizing and closures are all part of the modern economic landscape.

Few workers will work for one employer and retire after 30 years with a gold watch and a pension. To tell a potential employer that you were fired or laid off no longer has the stigma that it once did in the market place. If the termination was for fault associated with work performance that is another matter.

Many times successful employees learn from a disastrous work experience and become better employees because of the termination. Many suggest that you use the term “separated” and be honest about what happened and ready to explain how it has made you a better potential employee.

ask anything - dmi

Read more Ask Anything interviews!

4 Comments

This story is closed for comments. Comments on WRAL.com news stories are accepted and moderated between the hours of 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Oldest First
View all
  • icdumbpeople Dec 26, 1:39 p.m.

    Trust me. the sanford office needs to hire some people! It is insane to go in that office!! Need better management!!

  • HopingForABetterWorld Dec 9, 11:57 a.m.

    Did he say that 4000 cases of fraud out of 25,000 studied is small? Wow...I sure don't think so.

  • Steve Crisp Dec 9, 9:46 a.m.

    I have never understood the reason for unemployment insurance as it currently exists.

    Companies are forced to pay into a fund that will cover employees who get laid off. So essentially, employers are paying employees not to work. Then if there is a shortfall in the unemployment fund, government steps in with tax dollars and covers it. So then government is paying people not to work.

    It would seem to me that it is the employee's sole responsibility to provide for their income. They should develop the skills and the work ethic to get and retain a job. And they should put away a portion of their income to tide them through those times when they are in between jobs.

    If an employee has a concern regarding interim payments, then insurance companies should offer private unemployment policies which the employee pays for out of his or her own pocket.

    I will always have a real problem with any government intervention in what should be a private concern.

  • Con Amor Dec 9, 9:46 a.m.

    Great questions! Good answers!!

    I would again like to thank WRAL for making it possible for us to directly ask questions from people whom we would not normaly have the chance to talk to.