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DEO investigating travel agency employees' missing unemployment benefits

Short-time compensation program stopped paying benefits for 12 weeks

Florida employees of New World Travel Inc. reported a 12-week interruption of state unemployment benefits issued through the state’s short-time compensation program.

The company’s Aventura, Florida, offices reported sweeping cancellations of tours booked by European travelers to Canada and United States forced the company to cut hours by nearly half.

The company serves mostly German speaking families and much of the staff is originally from Germany.

“As you can imagine, it’s still dead,” New World’s HR manager, Janine Geisel, told News 6. “So, we had to cut the hours."

The hours for staff have been cut to 24 hours a week because of the unexpected drop in travel business.

The employees applied for the short-time compensation program designed to help companies retain “their workforce in times of temporary slowdown.”

Geisel told News 6 the slowdown has been devastating with every tour canceled “until the end of the year.”

“All the people who were supposed to be here in March, of course, couldn’t because of the travel ban, so everything got canceled,” Geisel said.

Geisel told News 6 she was born in Black Forrest, in the mountain region of southwestern Germany.

Employees based in Florida asked Geisel to contact News 6 after they had viewed a Make Ends Meet report that led to the correction of a resident’s DEO account when he had been denied unemployment benefits for weeks.

“The state benefits are a mess, to be honest,” Geisel told News 6. ″They (DEO) kept telling us it’s an issue they’ve never seen before, and they don’t know why all those weeks disappeared."

Payments for every week from May to July are not listed in the weekly benefits payout.

According to Geisel, all seven employees have struggled financially because of the payment void.

“We even had one person go back to Germany because she needed financial help and couldn’t pay the bills,” she said.

News 6 presented the case to the DEO’s Tallahassee office to have the employee accounts reviewed.

Paige Landrum, the DEO’s press secretary, issued a statement to News 6: “Our team has been in contact with this employer and is working diligently to bring a resolution.”

Landrum said the story provides the perfect backdrop to explain the Short-Time Compensation program.

“To avoid total layoff of some employees, the Short-Time Compensation program permits pro-rated Reemployment Assistance benefits to employees whose work hours and earnings are reduced as part of a Short-Time Compensation plan,” Landrum explained.

Additional information on the Short-Time Compensation program can be found by clicking or tapping here.


If you have an unemployment benefits issue email News 6: makeendsmeet@wkmg.com


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