Governor Asa Hutchinson has directed the Arkansas Department of Commerce to expedite unemployment benefits to assist Arkansans whose employment status may be impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak, he announced at a press conference on Tuesday.

Under current Arkansas law (Ark. Code Ann. §11-10-507(4)), individuals who claim unemployment insurance must wait one week, which is not counted as a week of unemployment. The Governor has directed the Arkansas Department of Commerce to waive the waiting period. This directive will allow the department to pay claims more quickly.

Governor Hutchinson has also directed the Department of Commerce to waive current work-search requirements for 30 days, allowing the unemployed to receive benefits without seeking other employment. This exception applies only to those employed by businesses that are temporarily closed with plans to reopen.

In a third action, the Governor has directed the Department of Commerce to allow the unemployed to apply for benefits online or by telephone rather than in person in a further effort to minimize the risk of spreading COVID-19. 

“These important changes will allow Arkansans impacted by COVID-19 to file unemployment insurance claims, register for work, and seek job-placement assistance in a timely manner while also protecting ADWS employees and mitigating the spread of the virus,” Governor Hutchinson said.

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