Workforce Resources in Response to Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19)
The COVID-19 epidemic has reached new heights and is challenging the way we deliver services at our workforce centers. Let us assure you that we will make every effort to serve all of our customers without any disruptions. Our primary concern is always for the safety and well-being of our customers and staff. We ask that if you have been infected by the COVID-19 virus or have come in contact with someone who has, we ask that you reach out to your nearest Workforce center by phone or through our chat-box on our website rather than coming into the center. Please see below for additional resources. We thank you for your understanding and cooperation.
Workforce Solutions MRG
The Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) holds responsibility for the state unemployment compensation program. However, Workforce Solutions Middle Rio Grande works closely with TWC and can act as your local navigator to resources.
To learn more about how to create a user ID and password, click here (pdf).
Wondering how to change your payment information or file an appeal? Find the answers to these questions and more at the TWC website.
Governor Abbott has waived the one-week waiting period for benefits and work search requirements for Unemployment Insurance.
Many job openings are available in Middle Rio Region. Search for jobs on WorkInTexas.com, the state’s job search website. If you need assistance, call us at 830-591-0141.. Create an account to get started.
Use WorkInTexas.com to learn more about the job openings.
Unemployment Benefit Claim Help & Resources Click here to learn more
FDA Alerts Consumers About Unauthorized Fraudulent COVID-19 Test Kits Click here to learn more
TWC to Implement Staggered Access to Unemployment Benefit Services Portal to Ensure More Texans Can File UI Claims
Recommendations Will Ease Backlog of Texans Unable to Access Unemployment System
Over half a million Texans have filed unemployment claims in the last 18 days as a result of COVID-19. The Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) will soon outpace the total number of claims received in all of 2019. This unprecedented increase has led to long wait times, overwhelmed call centers and technical issues with the Unemployment Benefit Services portal. TWC staff is working around the clock to expand the capacity to take claims but needs your support. Effective immediately, TWC recommends that Texans stagger their calls and access to the online portal based on applicant’s area codes.
“The outbreak of COVID-19 has reminded each of us the importance of acting with others in mind,” said TWC Executive Director Ed Serna. “Just as with the virus, we can treat this problem far more effectively if we work together and space out the demand rather than having everyone call at the same time. I know there are Texans worried about being out of work and missing their paychecks. We keep working until every Texan that needs help gets help. We are asking for you to join the effort.”
Effective immediately, TWC asks that Texans use their area code to find their proposed call and access times listed below. See below chart for recommended call and access times:
Recommended Call and Access Times
Area Codes Beginning with 9Mon-Wed-Fri 8:00 a.m.-Noon
Area Codes Beginning with 3, 4, 5,6Mon-Wed-Fri 1:00 p.m. - 5:00 p.m.
Area codes Beginning with 7, 8Tues -Thurs-Sat 8:00 a.m. - Noon
Area codes Beginning with 2Tues-Thurs-Sat 1:00 p.m. -5:00 p.m
Texans will not be penalized for a delay due to call or user volume. Claims for individuals affected by COVID-19 are eligible to be backdated. Staggering claims will provide help to reduce frustrations for many Texans and provide better access to needed services.
For more information on COVID-19 and unemployment benefits, visit: https://www.twc.texas.gov/news/covid-19-resources-job-seekers
Previously Ineligible for UI Benefits? TWC Encourages Monetarily Ineligible for UI Benefits to Reapply on April 5, New Quarter
The Texas Workforce Commission (TWC), encourages individuals previously deemed monetarily ineligible for unemployment benefits to reapply online starting Sunday, April 5, 2020. This date marks the beginning of a new quarter and as such the base period for unemployment benefits and those previously ineligible may now qualify.
Unemployment benefit eligibility is based on past wages, job separation and ongoing eligibility requirements. Currently past wages are calculated on a base period of October 2019-September 2019. However, starting on April 5, 2020, the base period changes to January 2019-December 2019. If you were denied unemployment benefits due to insufficient wages and worked during the January 2019-December 2019 base period, please visit the unemployment benefit services portal to reapply online.
To ensure Texans have access to essential benefits Gov. Greg Abbott waived waiting week requirements for those impacted by COVID-19 and TWC followed by waiving job search requirements. In addition to making it easier for Texans to received benefits, the Texas Workforce Commission is continuously working to expand tele center hours. Texans needing to speak to an individual can now call Monday-Friday 8:00a.m. to 6:00p.m. and Saturday 8:00a.m. to 5:00p.m.
TWC recognizes that many Texans have faced delays on the agency’s website and tele-centers based on the unprecedented traffic in wake of COVID-19, the agency has made great strides in addressing these concerns. In addition to expanding tele-center capacities, TWC is working closely with the Department of Information Resources (DIR) and other agency partners to expand website capabilities for Texans applying for unemployment benefits online. In addition to expanding capabilities, TWC is asking applicants to stagger their access and call times. Ensuring all Texans have access to benefits is TWC’s top priority. We encourage those who may now be monetary eligible to apply during their suggested time slot.
For questions about eligibility or how to apply visit: https://twc.texas.gov/jobseekers/eligibility-benefit-amounts
LOCAL WORKFORCE OFFICES
If you are a business facing a layoff or closure, we can offer proactive, business-focused intervention and layoff aversion support at no cost*.
To be contacted by our staff at our local offices for assistance. Below are resources available and questions answered:
The Shared Work program provides Texas employers with an alternative to layoffs. TWC developed this voluntary program to help Texas employers and employees withstand a slowdown in business. Click here to learn more.
TWC has created a FAQ for Coronavirus Information & Resources regarding Texas Employers
Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act Update Click here to learn more
Unemployment Benefit Claims Help & Resources for Employers Click here to learn more
FAQ on SBA’s Disaster Loans and Paycheck Protection Loans
Is your small business struggling due to the recent coronavirus epidemic?
Your business may be eligible for a new Paycheck Protection Loan.
This 4% interest rate loan is 100% guaranteed by the SBA.
Physician practices are eligible, no matter how they are structured.
Who is eligible?
Businesses and 501(c)(3)s with less than 500 employees.
Where can you get this loan?
Any existing SBA lenders and any lenders that are brought into the program through the Treasury.
You should talk to your preferred financial lender to see if they qualify.
You can visit https://www.sba.gov/disaster-assistance/coronavirus-covid-19.
What can you use the loan amount for?
Payroll costs - Group health care benefits
Employee salaries - Interest on ay mortgage obligation
And any other debt obligations occurred before Feb. 15, 2020.
How much can you borrow?
The maximum amount is the lesser of $10 million or 2.5 times the average monthly payroll based on last year’s payroll.
How long will it take to receive the money?
The SBA has authorized lenders to process, close, and service loans without SBA approval, giving you the means to invest in your business immediately.
What if you can’t pay it back?
First, all payment on principle, interest, and fees will be automatically deferred for six months.
Second, for businesses that retain their staff up until June 30, 2020, this loan will be forgiven.
Can the entire loan be forgiven?
No, only the portion of the loan used to cover payroll costs, mortgage interest, rent, and utilities can be forgiven.
In addition, only 8 weeks can be forgiven.
What does this bill do to provide relief for rural communities and farmers?
The bill includes a number of small business provisions designed to help farmers stay in business and take care of their employees during this difficult time. These include provisions that allow farmers to work with their trusted farm credit institutions for the purposes of securing payroll tax loans, along with 1-year deferrals, 100% guarantees, and low rates.
The bill provides $14 billion for the Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC), the funding mechanism for all major USDA programs. It also appropriates an additional $9.5 billion to specifically respond to losses due to COVID-19.
Additional funding is provided for USDA agencies that are on the front lines of responding to COVID-19, including the Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS), the Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS), and the Farm Service Agency (FSA).
The bill also includes $100 million to provide financing for rural broadband through the ReConnect program, and $25 million for the Distance Learning and Telemedicine program to provide grants for equipment and connectivity improvements.
Employee retention credit – how will this work?
The Employee Retention Credit provides a refundable payroll tax credit equal to 50 percent of up to $10,000 in wages per employee (including health benefits) paid by certain employers during the coronavirus crisis.
The credit is available to employers:
whose operations were fully or partially shut down by government order limiting commerce, travel, or group meetings due to coronavirus, or
whose quarterly receipts are less than 50% for the same quarter in the prior year.
Wages paid to employees during which they are furloughed or otherwise not working (due to reduced hours) as a result of their employer’s closure or economic hardship are eligible for the credit.
However, for employers with 100 or fewer employees, all employee wages qualify for the credit, regardless of whether they are furloughed or face reduced hours.
To prevent double dipping, employers that receive Small Business interruption loans are not eligible for the credit. Additionally, wages that qualify for the required paid leave credit are not eligible for the credit.
The credit is for wages paid by eligible employers from March 13, 2020 through December 31, 2020.
Keeping American Workers Paid and Employed Act
FAMILY MEDICAL AND MEDICAL LEAVE
Emergency Family and Medical Leave Expansion Act Update Click here
FROM OUR EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
March 27, 2020 Update
April 3, 2020 Update