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Bill denying unemployment benefits to job interview no-shows rejected in Maine Senate

Job seeker Bryan Diaz, left, and hiring manager Yvette Jeddery share a laugh during a job interview at a Target store in Dallas, Friday, Oct. 13, 2017. Jeddery hired Diaz at the end of the interview.
LM Otero
/
AP
Job seeker Bryan Diaz, left, and hiring manager Yvette Jeddery share a laugh during a job interview at a Target store in Dallas, Friday, Oct. 13, 2017. Jeddery hired Diaz at the end of the interview.

Democrats in the Maine Senate on Tuesday rejected a Republican proposal that would deny unemployment benefits to those who fail to appear at job interviews.

The bill is a response to complaints among some business groups that job applicants are ditching scheduled interviews so that they can continue to receive unemployment benefits.

Republican lawmakers have taken up the issue of so-called "interview ghosting" as part of their solution to ongoing workforce shortages.

Their proposal would strip a person of their unemployment benefits if they fail to show up for an interview and would continue to deny benefits until the person has returned to work and earned 10 times their weekly benefit amount.

But Democrats in the Senate opposed the measure that Orono Sen. Mike Tipping described as unnecessary and punitive.

"And that that could be harmful to both workers and their families and unproductive in helping Mainers connect with jobs, which is supposed to be the point of this legislation," he said.

The proposal also called for the creation of an online portal that would allow employers to report no-shows.

The state Department of Labor operates a similar portal, which received 314 complaints last year, but more than 80% of those were about individuals who had never filed for unemployment, or who were no longer receiving the benefit when a job offer was made.

The remaining 52 cases were investigated and just two cited a job applicant who failed to show up for an interview.

The bill now moves to the Democrat-controlled House.

Journalist Steve Mistler is Maine Public’s chief politics and government correspondent. He is based at the State House.