June 30, 2020
VIRGINIA EMPLOYMENT COMMISSION TEMPORARILY CLOSES HEADQUARTERS FOLLOWING POSITIVE COVID-19 TEST RESULT
~ Administrative hearings and electronic payment of unemployment benefits not affected ~
RICHMOND – The Virginia Employment Commission (VEC) announced today that approximately 350 employees of the agency who are assigned to its West Broad Street headquarters office in Richmond will be required to work from home. Most of them had already been teleworking. That office primarily serves internal agency functions, including procurement, information technology, finance, accounting and agency leadership. VEC call centers and district offices are not affected by this move and will continue to process Unemployment Insurance claims, hold administrative hearings and respond to customer inquiries. Only people who receive a paper check as their method of payment may see a slight delay. This accounts for less than .0027% (approximately one-quarter of one percent) of claims processed.
Many of the employees at this office were already teleworking, so this change is expected to have a minimal impact on operations. Working from home is possible through the recent acquisition of laptop computers for employees in these administrative departments.
The office will undergo a thorough cleaning tonight, and the agency will take appropriate steps to resume normal operations while continuing to encourage teleworking. This is the fourth VEC employee to test positive for the coronavirus in the past three months. After each case, the office was temporarily shut down and the office fully cleaned.
“Our employees have been working long hours for countless days as a result of the hardships created by the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Ellen Marie Hess, Commissioner of VEC. “Most importantly, I want the people we serve to know that we understand how important it is to get their benefits as quickly as possible, and we remain dedicated to helping our fellow Virginians in this time of need.”
Like other organizations, the VEC is dealing with the challenges of COVID-19 and maintaining operations. The agency continues to remotely process claims and issue payments. The VEC call centers remain operational and staff members continue to deliver services to a record number of claimants. To date, VEC has received more claims during the pandemic than the previous five years combined. The agency has processed 75% of claims and issued more than $5 billion in unemployment benefits since March.