Seasonal Employee Work Search Requirements for Winter 2020-2021

By John Schulze, ABC of Wisconsin Director of Government and Legal Affairs

In a typical year, employees not on seasonal layoffs collecting Unemployment Insurance benefits (Benefits) must register with the Job Center of Wisconsin and perform four work search requirements every week (Work Search), and cannot receive Benefits for their first week not working. Also in a typical year, employees collecting Benefits who are on seasonal layoff can be exempted from the Work Search for up to 12 weeks if they are expected to be recalled and obtain a waiver from the Department of Workforce Development.

2020 is not a typical year in many ways, including Benefits and Work Search requirements. First, employees can receive Benefits for the first week on layoff for any initial claim between the weeks of March 15, 2020 and February 7, 2021. Second, until at least February 2, 2021, the Work Search is waived. ABC government relations staff has been working to either extend the blanket Work Search waiver past February 2, 2021, or in the alternative, have the usual 12-week waiver for seasonal layoffs start again after the blanket layoff expires.

However, employees should still file an initial claim application in the first week they want to receive an unemployment payment or within seven (7) days of the end of the calendar week. To receive Benefits, an employee must still file an initial claim either online at or call 414-438-7700/608-232-0678. Please be aware that call wait times are still exceedingly long, and DWD is still dealing with a huge claims processing backlog. The administration is working diligently to address the unprecedented volume by adding staff, extending hours, and even partnering with Google. If your employee believes he/she has been waiting too long, please have them contact their state legislator, as legislative staffers have been receiving training over the last several months to help constituents with UI problems.

For more information, contact: John Schulze, ABC Director of Government and Legal Affairs at 608-244-5883 or

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