BOISE — The Idaho Department of Labor has installed new phone software to accommodate the increase in unemployment insurance calls the department has received since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. Starting Monday, claimants needing assistance should call (208) 332-8942. The 800 number will no longer be used.

The department has hired and trained approximately 60 additional staff members to help with the increased unemployment insurance workload. Forty-nine employees will be dedicated to the answering the phones and will be available from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. MT Monday-Friday. Spanish speaking agents will also be available.

Claimants can find answers to frequently asked questions online at https://bit.ly/3kMKdCc and are encouraged to watch how-to videos at https://bit.ly/332R5p4 before filing.

Because Labor’s old phone system was not able to handle the increase in calls, the department contracted with a call center to answer claimant phone calls earlier this year. This also allowed Labor staff to handle more complex issues with claims. Other steps taken to increase response times include hiring more staff to work through the backlog and to address the current workload. Significant changes were also made to the Claimant Portal to accommodate the new CARES Act programs and to help claimants better understand the steps involved in filing a claim.

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