SALT LAKE CITY (KUTV) — Many federal furloughed workers are now back at work. Many more will head back soon. At least 300 furloughed workers with the Department of Homeland Security will go back to work Tuesday morning.
They're not getting paid and they can't collect unemployment benefits in Utah.
“The challenge, in Utah, is in how unemployment is defined,” says Nate McDonald, the assistant deputy director of Utah’s Department of Workforce Services. “These workers that are going back to work, they will get paid. The federal government will pay them, it's just when will they pay them and, because they will be paid, they are not deemed unemployed."
At least three furloughed workers, who asked not to be identified, told 2News on Monday this latest blow hurts even more.
McDonald and his team don’t make the law, they just have to enforce it. They keep track of worker payments, so they'll know if a worker tries to cheat the system and still collect unemployment.
“If they're being untruthful, they would be committing fraud against the program, and so we definitely discourage that,” McDonald said.
McDonald says Utah has one of the highest numbers of unemployment claims in the country. As of Friday, more than 3,000 federal furloughed employees in Utah had filed for unemployment benefits.
“It's really challenging, and it's something that makes this whole situation very tough, and we recognize that," McDonald said.
Workforce Services can help with food stamps, utility bills, childcare and emergency money for single parents.