TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — 8 On Your Side has obtained emails showing the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity is terminating contracts for call center employees.
The emails, originally sent to contracted call center employees earlier Tuesday, cite an “unanticipated lack of continued funding” for ceasing DEO call center operations. Their last day of work will be July 21, per the emails.
According to AECOM, one of the contracted firms affected, the state has assured them this is in no way attributed to their performance.
The emails do not indicate how many call center staffers will soon be out of work. However, we know from previous reporting that the state of Florida pledged up to 2,000 additional DEO employees earlier this year to fulfill high need.
The reported layoffs come as some unemployment applicants complain of long wait times to connect with call center agents.
DEO released a statement to WFLA stating:
As the Department works to continue to improve the customer service provided to claimants during this unprecedented time, the Department is prioritizing vendors who have fully trained representatives to handle all claimant issues and are more proficient in the CONNECT system, are meeting or exceeding contractual performance expectations and providing high quality customer service to Floridians. Vendors who are not providing as high quality services will not continue to provide services at this time.
The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity has ended the contracts with AECOM and UDT. At this time, DEO has determined it is best to focus its efforts on the companies who have provided higher skilled and fully trained representatives.
DEO continues to fund more than 3,000 customer service representatives who are available during customer service hours to assist Floridians with their Reemployment Assistance claims. The Department will continue to monitor resource demands and needs to ensure service levels for Floridians will continue to improve. The Department remains committed to helping eligible Floridians receive their Reemployment Assistance benefits as quickly as possible.Florida DEO Spokesperson
State Rep. Anna Eskamani who represents people in Orange County says this will not help Floridians still in need of unemployment benefits.
“Time and time again we’ve received updates about the Department of Economic Opportunity from social media or from directly impacted Floridians versus the agency themselves. It’s concerning to hear about call center contacts being terminated especially since so many Floridians are still trying to access DEO call agents to provide assistance with their benefits. It’s July, and Floridians are still dealing with a broken system, now with less staff to help.”State Rep. Anna Eskamani (D) – Orlando
News Channel 8 is On Your Side working to help Floridians receive their unemployment benefits. If you are facing a barrier to your benefits, please complete this short survey put together by 8 On Your Side’s Victoria Price. Your answers will help us compile data about the scope of persistent DEO issues.
That information will then be submitted on your behalf to the DEO in hopes of escalating your claim. Please complete the survey by 5 p.m. on Friday, July 17 to make the cutoff.
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