Some unemployed workers could be exempted from job search requirements under the Nebraska Employment Security Act if a bill being considered by the Nebraska legislature passes.
LB 428 introduced by State Senator Curt Friesen, would give the Commissioner of Labor the authority to exempt some workers on highway and street construction jobs from job searches as a condition of receiving unemployment benefits. The bill would expand the exemption from job search requirements for workers on layoffs who have an expectation of returning to work.
Nebraska requires laid off workers to make five job search contacts per week and one contact a day as a condition for receiving unemployment benefits. Businesses support the reduction in unemployment taxes brought about by policies such as tough job search requirements. But those job search requirements have had unintended consequences.
In another state with robust job search requirements for unemployed workers, Wisconsin, many employers in the construction industry complained about the job search requirements. They argued that the job search requirements made it harder to retain employees who traditionally collect unemployment benefits while being laid off over the winter.
Requiring workers on a seasonal layoff to look for work gives other employers the chance to “recruit” employees. Construction employers in Nebraska frequently complain of a worker shortage, so employee turnover encouraged by job search requirements would make that problem worse.
If you spend any time reading HR Twitter you know that “talent” recruitment and retention is frequently discussed. Setting aside the obvious solution of increasing wages, HR folks like to talk about creative ways to retain employees. Hence perks like ping pong tables in break rooms and casual dress codes.
Traditionally employers were usually the only way to obtain good health insurance, so workers stay in their jobs to keep their health insurance even if the working conditions are poor.
There are also more coercive talent “retention” tactics such as non-compete agreements that are being increasingly absued by employers to the point that even some Republicans are introducing bills to address the issue on a federal level.
In addition to reducing taxes, tough job search requirements are supposed to increase the size of the labor market by discouraging receiving unemployment benefits. But policies that may benefit business interests as a whole, like job search requirements to receive unemployment benefits, may not benefit particular employers who may struggle to hold onto valuable employees.