CTDOL announces increase in weekly unemployment benefits, wages for restaurant workers performing more than tipped food service



WETHERSFIELD, Conn. (WTNH) — Connecticut Department of Labor (CTDOL) Commissioner Kurt Westby announced Wednesday an increase to the weekly unemployment benefit allowance along with an increase to the rate of pay for restaurant/food service workers performing more than tipped food service.

The new increase for unemployment benefits is $18/week for new claimants who file for unemployment benefits on or after Oct. 4, 2020, for a maximum of $667/week.

CTDOL says this increase “does not apply to claimants who are currently receiving unemployment or who file a claim prior to Oct. 4.” Additionally, “the dependency allowance remains $15 per dependent to a maximum of $75 per week.”

The commissioner says with the launch of the new Consumer Contact Center in July, “CTDOL has finally been able to eliminate the backlog of unemployment applications.”

CTDOL reports, since March 13, 2020, the state has received more than 965,000 state, federal, and extended benefits applications. That is about 232,000 weekly filers.

Application processing time that hit a high of six weeks during the pandemic, is now down to 1-3 days with Contact Center staff assisting more than 20,000 claimants per week.

Commissioner Westby added, “Simply put, claimants are getting help faster. These new customer service agents are often a lifeline for filers—handling about 20,000 cases per week and answering questions on state unemployment programs, federal pandemic unemployment, extended benefits, and Lost Wages Assistance. We anticipate a high level of need for these representatives well into 2021 and urge our federal officials to protect CARES Act funding.”

The Consumer Contact Center is funded through the CARES Act, which is set to expire on Dec. 31, 2020.

Wednesday, Commissioner Westby also released clarification for restaurant and foodservice employers regarding tipped workers.

Beginning Sept. 24, 2020, tipped service workers minimum wage will be increased to $12 per hour when they are performing duties other than tipped food service for more than two hours per shift, or 20% of their time. The Tip Credit rate of pay will remain $6.38/h.

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