The Department of Commerce and the Division of Workforce Services is working around the clock to update and make changes to their system to better serve those seeking to file an unemployment claim. Below is the latest updates and information regarding applying for unemployment benefits and the steps being taken to address issues with the system:
Online Unemployment Insurance Applications:
EZARC Site: https://www.ezarc.adws.arkansas.gov/
Unemployment Insurance Hotline: 1-844-908-2178 or 501-534-6304
HOURS: Monday – Friday, 8am-3:30pm
Hotline operation hours complaints/issues & the reason for the 3:30pm cut off time- This allows staff to continue to work later to clear the queue. The queue capacity is 200 currently. So, even though the phone stops accepting calls past 3:30pm, they are still taking care of 200 individuals past that time. As they ramp up with additional call agents, DIS will increase as needed to meet the demand.
Paper Form Applications:
Workforce Centers can be found here: https://www.dws.arkansas.gov/contact/
Though in-person visits are discouraged, print applications are also available for pick-up at the Arkansas Workforce Centers across the state.
General Unemployment Insurance Inquiries:
UI.General.Questions@arkansas.gov – This email address SHOULD NOT be used to file a claim.
ADWS Information Desk: 1-855-225-4440 or 501-682-2121
HOURS: Monday – Friday, 8am – 3:30pm
The website has recently added capacity that will allow it to run more smoothly with the increased traffic visiting the site. DWS IT is working on the technical requirements necessary to take EZARC 24/7.
DWS is currently working on code that will eliminate the message that some applicants are getting once they submit their claim that instructs them to call DWS within 3 days. Initially that timeframe was extended to 7 days, but due to the high call volume applicants are still having difficulty getting through. If someone is unable to call into the Hotline within those 7 days, their claim will NOT be cancelled. The code fix will eliminate the message and will send an alert to DWS to follow up with that applicant to resolve any issues the system has identified. Examples causing the message include:
If someone says they live in Saline County but they list the zip code as 72207. An employer with multiple addresses. For instance, if they list Walmart as their employer but don’t specify which location.
The Department of Commerce and DWS has identified additional staff to assist with the Hotline Call Center. Those people are being trained and put in place to answer calls and submit applications on a daily basis. This increase began on Monday of this week.
The Department of Commerce is working to identify third party call center vendors to provide immediate relief for the high call volume.
The Department of Commerce is working on increased messaging to get information out to assist the public in filing for benefits.
Until guidance is provided from the U.S. Department of Labor, DWS is unable to process an application for those that are eligible for the CARES Act Expansion of Unemployment Benefits. The programs that are included in the CARES Act are:
Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) – provides emergency unemployment assistance to workers who are left out of regular state UI or who have exhausted their state UI benefits. Workers who are not normally eligible for benefits include self-employed individuals, independent contractors, “gig economy” workers, and individuals who were unable to start a new job or contract due to the pandemic. These workers are also be eligible for the $600 weekly benefit payment. The program will expire on December 31, 2020, unless otherwise extended.
Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (PUC) – provides for an additional $600 on top of state benefits already provided for those eligible for traditional unemployment. PUC is a flat amount to those on UI, including those who are receiving a partial unemployment benefit check. PUC also goes to those receiving the new Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program described below. This provision expires on July 31, 2020.
Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC) – provides for 13 weeks of additional benefits which becomes available after someone exhausts all their regular unemployment benefits. The regular state benefits last for 16 weeks so PEUC would bring the total benefit time to 29 weeks.
DWS asks for those that would qualify for unemployment benefits under the CARES Act to not to try to file a claim at this time or call to inquire in order to not add any additional pressure on the call center. As soon as the guidance is received, the Department of Commerce will send out a press release and provide information on how to apply through all social media and media channels available.