PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — With tens of thousands of Rhode Islanders currently receiving out-of-work benefits, the R.I. Department of Labor and Training is looking to improve its response to any issues they’re having.
On Tuesday, the agency announced it would be expanding the Unemployment Insurance Call Center’s hours starting on Wednesday, as well as bolstering its staff.
“Volumes have been tremendous,” DLT Director Scott Jensen said. “They are not calling to complain. They are calling because they need help. We think the shift in strategy like we announced today will really help that out.”
The call center has had around 50 people answering phones throughout the pandemic, according to Jensen, and that will be increased to 80.
“Many of the folks we’re going to have on the phone have been here for 15 years, so we’ve had to deploy those people in the background,” Jensen explained. “Now, we will be able to get those people on the telephone so that when you, as a Rhode Islander who needs help with their UI claim, you can talk right to them and they can make a decision right off the bat.”
The call center can be reached at (401) 415-6772, and the new hours are as follows:
- Monday – Thursday: 8 a.m. – 6 p.m.
- Friday: 9 a.m. – 6 p.m.
- Saturday: 8 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.
Callers should still expect a wait time and are encouraged to try again if unable to get through at first.
Jensen told Eyewitness News the goal is to help 1,000 Rhode Islanders a day.
“Still be patient, but we think in the course of the next two weeks, we can bring down the number of people who need to give us a call,” he said.
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The agency advised checking its FAQ page before calling to see if a question has already been answered, and said the call center should only be contacted with “claim-specific issues that require DLT intervention.”
General, non-claim-specific questions can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
On Monday, DLT officials said payments for thousands of claimants will be automatically processed after new questions reportedly caused confusion and other issues with the certification process.
Those payments will be delayed one to two days, according to the DLT, and there’s no need to re-certify or contact the call center.