HONOLULU (KHON2) — The State of Hawaii launched a new call center on Oct. 1 to help handle the backlog of jobless claims.
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Governor David Ige announced that 200 people would assist callers but only 50 started this week.
“By Monday, we should have a total of 120 agents and by mid-October, we’ll have our total of 200 agents on board,” explained Hawaii Unemployment Director Anne Perreira-Eustaquio.
She said that the call center has been extremely busy since it opened on Wednesday, which is why not everyone has been able to get through.
The DLIR said there’s something some people are doing that’s complicating the matter for everyone.
“We are having problems with robo dialers,” Perreira-Eustaquio revealed. “We have individuals out there who have robo-dialing systems that they either got from online or purchased somewhere. And so, I’d ask everyone to stop using their robo dialers. It doesn’t just make it difficult for them, because there are some technicalities that work against them with those robo dialing, but it makes it difficult for every claimant who’s trying to get in.”
She said that another issue has been people going back to work, being let go due to the lockdown and then put back to work again.
“So, their filing system changes a bit, and then some of them are now being permanently laid off and so they have to make sure that they change their status with us so it does get a little more complex,” she explained.
Gov. Ige said that almost $5 million in federal coronavirus relief funds were allocated to staff the nearly 200-person call center and that 96% of initial claims have been successfully filed online.
DLIR said that the new call center isn’t for everyone right now and that they should wait until mid-October for certain issues and claims.
“We have 100 agents coming on by the end by the mid-month of October and those agents are actually going to work on these much more difficult adjudication issues,” Perreira-Eustaquio explained. “They’re going to be able to call both parties the employer and the claimant obtain factfinding and make decisions on claims.”
“If you are a claimant who has one of those complicated separation issues, your voluntary left or there was misconduct, then this call center will not be able to help you,” she continued.
She said staff will continue to reach out to people daily and an unidentified 808 number or potential spam number could be unemployment trying to call you.
“Please, if you get a call and if you’re waiting for your claim to be worked on, and you get a call, and you may not know who that call is from pick it up, because it’s probably us trying to get in touch with you trying to clean your claim up,” Perreira-Eustaquio said.
Operators will be able to answer all types of claimant inquiries, including Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA).
The toll-free numbers are (833) 901-2272 and (833) 901-2275 and respectively correspond to the local numbers (808) 762-5751 and (808) 762-5752.
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