if your hours have been cut, you can collect unemployment benefits

You should know that if your hours are cut due to coronavirus (or for any other reason), you can file for unemployment benefits in your state.

I’ve heard from some people who incorrectly believed they had to be fully unemployed before they’d be eligible for unemployment. While rules vary from state to state, that’s generally not true. If your hours are cut or your work becomes more sporadic (like your company closes for just a week or two) or if you’re put on a “zero hour” schedule, you should file for unemployment.

You also should file as soon as possible, since you generally won’t receive benefits retroactively. Many states are waiving their normal waiting periods right now. Be aware that some state unemployment websites are crashing because of how many people are applying, but keep trying.

Also! If you’re an independent contractor, you’re not eligible for unemployment benefits, but a lot of people have been misclassified as independent contractors when, according to the law, they are in fact employees and should’ve been being paid as such. In many states, if they determine that you’ve been misclassified, you will become eligible to collect unemployment benefits. So if you think you’ve been improperly classified as an independent contractor, that’s worth challenging.

This webpage lets you look up unemployment info by state.

{ 115 comments… read them below }

  1. one comment and out*

    Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, many states have also extended unemployment benefits to people who would have otherwise not have qualified.

      1. Risha*

        To be fair, that’s also frequently true when there isn’t a pandemic. //bitter former New Jersey-ian who once spent several days in a row for literal hours a day on the phone trying to get through before the lines closed because the website didn’t allow her to file a claim//

        1. Frank Doyle*

          OH MAN don’t even get me started. I was filing after I’d moved to PA and it was a gottamned nightmare. I had to DRIVE two hours to NJ to GET ON A PHONE at the unemployment office. TWICE.

      2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        And the phones will give you the busy signal, something a lot of people haven’t heard in years and aren’t aware that the lines aren’t down, they’re just jammed!

        It happens with websites all the time. When Michael Jackson died, it practically took down the internet because of the increased traffic.

      3. Nini*

        That’s the normal state of the unemployment line in California. It’s very difficult to get through during normal times, and I imagine it’s next to impossible now.

          1. Jane*

            No, not in my experience. I was a seasonal employee for years and filed unemployment when I got laid off each year. I have not gotten through on the phone since like 2011. That year it was possible but time consuming, but when CA did the whole Friday furlough/austerity thing I think they got rid of a bunch of their EDD employees.

        1. Gazebo Slayer*

          Same in Massachusetts. I think I’ve only ever been able to reach our unemployment office twice on the phone. And often they would keep you on hold for ten, twenty, thirty minutes and THEN hang up on you when the phones were busy. Horrible system – so disrespectful of people’s time.

    1. AMY*

      tank you for this allison! I was furloughed today from my production and imports job and still trying to get my bearings.Finding out if i can work for half my rate bc this wil still be slightly better than NY state unemployment maximum, otherwise thats my my next best shot. Would rather be less cash but still busy and distracted!! Fingers crossed……

    2. Marla*

      Can someone advise us on applying for unemployment in Indiana from a non-profit catholic charity thrift shop? they are saying that since they were non-profit, no unemployment was paid in so I can’t get it.

  2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

    Thank you for this!

    I’ve been struggling to explain this to a lot of people who are in a panic.

    Also if you’re rejected by Washington state due to your part-time status, they will call you about it and overturn the rejection. They had auto-rejection issues that the news has covered but can get lost in the shuffle of the pandemic updates.

    If you’re rejected, FIGHT, don’t just give up. There are glitches.

    If you’re a night owl, try staying up later in the evening to file as well,sine the websites are starting to crash in some areas due to the traffic increase.

    1. MAC*

      This! Also in WA state – my sister’s first application last week was denied, but she tried again today and was successful. So keep trying.

  3. JR_JR*

    One heads up if you’ve never been on unemployment before, it is consider taxable income for your federal income taxes. Some states also tax it (ex, DC), and some states don’t (ex, VA). Not saying anyone should or should not have taxes taken out of their unemployment payments, just want folks to be aware, so everyone can make the right choice for themselves.

    1. Nini*

      Yes! My experience is that when filing you can opt to have taxes taken out like you would your normal paycheck. I’d recommend doing that so you don’t get slammed by how much you owe next year.

  4. A Simple Narwhal*

    My friend’s company cut everyone’s salaries IN HALF without reducing hours or output expectations. Aside from that being insane, I was wondering if my friend had any recourse, like if they could apply for unemployment for their original salary if this counts as constructive dismissal? I’m fairly certain they make enough that 50% of their salary wouldn’t put them under minimum wage, but it’s awful that everyone in their company is being told to keep producing the same work for half pay.

    1. Beth Jacobs*

      Oh my god, can’t help, just commenting this is crazy. I can understamd a 10% paycut may be more pallatable than lay offs but 50 % while expectations remain unchanged? If the same amount of work still has to be done, it would appear the company actually has the same amount of business coming in.

    2. Llellayena*

      Not sure about the available recourse, but did they at least put in writing that the salaries would go back up after a reasonable amount of time due to Covid? If not, I’d be pushing back (preferably with a group) to get those protections or follow up with the constructive dismissal thing.

    3. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      They can reduce salaries as long as it’s not retroactive and a clawback in most instances. So if they weren’t all “starting last paycheck, you make $15 an hour instead of $30! We’ll deduct the payback from your next check, oop no check for you that turns out!”. kind of thing.

      They may be eligible for unemployment but they’d have to talk to someone at their state level, which is hard given the traffic jam that’s being had over there.

      This is some low life snake level BS though and I hope that as soon as the pandemic has passed, everyone there bounces right to another job. It made my skin crawl reading your post because of how awful it is.

    4. Director of Alpaca Exams*

      My partner’s in sales, and his company cut his salary in half but doubled his commission. The problem is, no one wants to buy anything right now…

    5. Anon for this topic*

      My company is doing the same thing. However, lower levels are getting hours cut. Managers/vp and C level are just getting paycuts with no reduction in time/responsibilities.

      1. MOAS*

        I wish this was an option for me, I’d give up half my salary to whether this through than to be jobless. :(

    6. MOAS*

      Honestly, I know it sounds horrible but I would rather do that (knowing its’ temp) than to just be laid off completely. Half my income would still be more than Unemployment. But my own situation is different so I wouldn’t blame anyone for thinking it’s horrible and not taking it.

      1. anonymouslee*

        If you got a 50% reduction in hours (and therefore 50% of your pay, but the same per hour), you’d be able to file for unemployment for the other hours missed. Working the same hours at half pay, you don’t.

    7. Fake Old Converse Shoes (not in the US)*

      I was talking with someone who works for an European airline, and he was told he will get full pay for March, but from April onwards he’ll have a 25% cut. He’s freaking out, since he has two children (one in college, one still in high school) to feed.

    8. KayEss*

      I seem to recall that you can be eligible for unemployment if your pay is cut by more than 30% and you quit because of that, even though you left the job “voluntarily.” But that likely varies state-by-state and I don’t know if the benefits would be based on their pre- or post-cut salary.

    9. Natalie*

      Depends on the state, but they should just read the application and apply if it seems like they may qualify. There’s nothing wrong with filing an honest UI application even if it turns out you don’t qualify. Deciding on edge cases is part of the UI system’s job.

  5. Sneaky Ninja for this one*

    My son has been asking because IL unemployment requires you to look for work while you’re unemployed. I’m not sure how that works. He has a job, he’s just on a company required LOA due to COVID 19.

    1. Nini*

      My experience with IL’s requirement for that is that it has been pretty lax. I was required to upload my resume to their website, where I never once got a call from anyone on it, and was once asked to send them a list of jobs I’d applied to. I only had to list 1 job per week.

    2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      In my experience, if you’re put on “standby” kind of layoff, that you’re checking in with your employer for when you reopen, you don’t have to look for work. But it will vary state to state.

      When my dad was laid off back in the mid 2000s, he didn’t have to look for work because he was still employed. He was just on “standby” and had to just confirm he was in touch with his supervisors! So that’s not necessarily new ruling in some areas.

    3. Lexica*

      My husband (who just got approved for unemployment, thank goodness) is dealing with a similar issue. “Have I applied for a job in the past week? No, because I’m a bartender and my entire industry has been shut down!”

    4. Jules the 3rd*

      The four states I’ve checked so far have all waived the job hunt requirement, but check your state to be sure.

    5. me*

      when i was on unemployment in IL i had to certify every week or every other week that i looked for jobs during that period. i kept a list of jobs i applied to, even anonymous craigslist posts, in case i got audited as well as other job-seeking activities, like working with career services from my university.

      this was also during a federal shutdown when the unemployment office was overworked and my check got held up, so i contacted my state rep to get things sorted out and they got my check to me really quickly after that.

    6. Elizabeth Rochelle Dickson*

      IL is waiving that right now if you intend to go back to your job when this is over. My dog daycare wrote me a letter for unemployment stating that they intend to rehire me when they open back up, that I am basically out of work because they were forced to close because of COVID-19.

      Seriously, the website is crazy — I can’t get anywhere due to crashes, and I can’t get anyone on the phone…. and I’m freaking about that. I know it’s nobody’s fault, but still. AAAAAAAAHHHHH!

  6. Unemployment Questions*

    Just filed for unemployment for the first time. A couple questions:
    1. Is it correct that the cap in NC is $350/week? Is there a chance that this will go up due to COVID? If so, would I need to re-apply?
    2. I received a document that said I need to submit a list of my job search efforts to receive my benefits. However, I was laid off due to COVID. Should I just ignore this direction? I tried emailing and calling directly to ask, but could not get through. I could probably find a job working at Costco or another grocery store at this time, but I’d rather not be working in public if I don’t have to. There is a small chance that I may be rehired at my old employer after all this is over (unlikely, but you never know), so I also don’t want to go through an extensive job search immediately.

    1. Ladybug*

      So sorry you have to take this step. Yes, the cap in NC is $350 (before taxes), though you may be right that this may change for COVID-specific claims. I’m not sure if you would need to reapply. I recently went through the NC unemployment process (non-COVID related) and the folks who work at the office were pretty good about checking submissions and calling to follow up if something didn’t make sense. I’m sure they’re inundated now, but just wanted to mention that they seemed to be on top of things, so you probably would not need to apply again. The forms on the NC website can be confusing and whenever I did receive a follow-up call, they seemed to know exactly what went wrong, meaning they are used to the confusion. Again, not sure if this will be true due to the current volume of claims.

      For the job search documentation, I believe NC is waiving the requirement for COVID-related submissions. There’s a page on the NC site that lists all the COVID-related rules and is being updated regularly. That’s where I saw this waiver. Good luck.

    2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Most unemployment claims do not expect you to take any job possible unless you’ve been on the program for a long time. They want you to look for work within your skill set. So don’t worry about needing to take a grocery store kind of job, you know?

      Also I’d just submit your job search paperwork as that you’re staying in touch with your current employer. This may change with COVID being the cause but many places do allow for a company to do temporary layoffs. It’s popular in a lot of industries.

      Don’t ignore anything unless told to, you can still submit that and put your current employer down as the search efforts. And try to get in touch with someone there. Here they’re calling people but yeah, it’s taking a longtime…

      Oh and the Employee Securities Department is hiring too, in case you’re in that kind of line of work =X But yeah, no not many places are actively hiring right now. So that’ll help out regardless. You can’t apply regardless if there arent’ any jobs.

  7. Nini*

    Any insight into this situation?

    I was laid off from a full time job, was on unemployment for a month, accepted a 1099 contract for 3 months (on my own directly with the company, not through a recruiter or recruiting firm). When the 3 month contract is up, an I able to apply for unemployment again?

    Thanks in advance to anyone who has dealt with a similar situation and can provide insight!

    1. Frank Doyle*

      It probably varies by state, but I would say that you still qualify, yes. If you were eligible to claim 6 months of benefits, but only used one, you probably can claim for five more months. But of course it may vary by state.

      I had a similar situation, I worked very briefly at one job and was fired from it, and was able to claim benefits because I had been working (at a different job) in the year that was 18 to 6 months prior to my getting fired.

      1. Nini*

        I also have the added headache of having to file in IL even though I live in CA and the full time job was in CA, because in May of *last* year I had a contract to hire job (also in CA) that reduced my hours to zero for 4 weeks (“benched” me) and at the time I’d recently moved and the majority of my last 18 months of work was in IL. So when this happened in January I still had an “open” claim in IL through May. I guess I refile in CA in June?

        This system is a nightmare, basically. As millions of people are discovering for the first time. It’s designed to make getting the money rightfully owed to you hard to get.

  8. Chocoholic*

    Colorado Department of Labor and Employment is requesting:

    • If your last name begins with the letter A-M, file your claim on Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday or after noon on Saturday.

    • If your last name begins with the letter N-Z, file your claim on Monday, Wednesday, Friday or before noon on Saturday.

    Officials also urged filers to click the “Save & Finish Later” button on their online application often and then click “File a Claim” to return to the last page you saved. Filing during non-peak hours — after 8 p.m. or early in the morning — should also help reduce the volume on the website.

    In case anyone is in Colorado.

  9. Allison*

    Also, if you’re hesitant to apply because you’re worried a tight job market means you won’t meet the job search requirements, apply anyway, some states are waiving that requirement for people laid off due to COVID-19. At least look into it.

  10. Nep*

    If I agreed to a temporary pay cut so I could work from home (because there’s not much I can do at home), does that count?

    1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      It’ll usually depend on the amount you’ve been reduced by. Usually you have to have your hours/wages cut pretty low to be eligible. When we had to cut a work day [went to 4 from 5] during the Great Recession, they weren’t eligible because it wasn’t cut drastically enough. How much did you reduce to? Was it more than the equivalent of 1 day time in the end?

      1. demosthenes*

        I would encourage you to keep documentation that you were encouraged to agree to a temporary pay cut. That documentation might become important in order to continue to receive benefits.

        And our state typically has a 40% reduction requirement in order to be eligible but that has been waived to any percentage of loss due to COVID measures. Our employees are being issued a small amount of benefits that may increase or decrease base on what they report every two weeks as income received during that period.

  11. Little Miss Cranky Pants*

    Florida’s system just keeps going through a loop back to the start page. I’ve tried ten times since Friday afternoon to even *start* an application, and this state is known for making it deliberately hard for people. I may try the log in at 2AM technique and see how that goes.

    Effing nightmare for everyone. Hugs to all!

    1. Gazebo Slayer*

      Massachusetts’s website just *closes* at a certain time in the evenings, I think 10 PM. Always did, long before coronavirus. It’s like whoever designed it didn’t realize nobody needs to staff a website all night to keep it running.

  12. 10 Years and Counting*

    I was just notified of a layoff NOT related to Covid. I’m getting my next two paychecks, so through April 15, even though I’m not working. Do I have to wait until April 15 to apply for unemployment? (This is in PA)

    1. KaciHall*

      I only have experience with Missouri and Indiana, but both of those started let you file right away and have a spot where it asks any severance or other pay you will be receiving, which is taken into account.

      1. Ann O'Nemity*

        This is the way my state is too. You can apply right away, you just might not get benefits right away.

    2. Lifelong student*

      Back in the day- before all this- the fact that you had future paychecks coming did not affect your eligibility for unemployment. If your employer says don’t come to work- you are unemployed- even if they are paying you for past or even future service. It may effect the amount you will receive. I was once let go from a job and given a week of pay in lieu of notice. That week did not affect my eligibility for unemployment – my eligibility period started from the day of termination not the last day of compensation.

    3. Nini*

      Nope! File now. If they ask if you have severance pay coming say yes. If they ask about holiday pay say yes. If they ask if you “earned wages” it ought to be a no (I think, check their guide on this it varies by state). IL told me that the hours I worked were what I earned and anything paid to me beyond that for the day or week were a “gift” and didn’t count as earned wages for my claim.

  13. Grace*

    Does unemployment apply to PRN staff and substitute teachers? Was never guaranteed work hours but not getting any now

  14. Nini*

    I highly recommend signing up for direct deposit if it’s available to you. That will ensure that every penny goes into your own bank account, and that you don’t wind up with a few dollars or cents left sitting on a debit card held by the state. It will also allow you to earn whatever interest rate your bank normally pays on the money (which is minimal, but better it goes to you than to the state, right?)

  15. OyHiOh*

    Along with unemployement, there are medical and food benefits available to families affected by pandemic conditions, that would not normally be available – higher income limits, less means testing, etc. In CO, the upper income limit (prior to COVID) for applying for food/medical is now set at $75,000/yr. You’ve paid into these safety net benefits, please use them.

  16. Let us help you*

    Apply online. Do direct deposit. Give the UI folks time to sort it out. This often requires a bunch of manual intervention. Don’t call unless you ABSOLUTELY have to. These people are human too and have been asked to work an absurd number of hours under immense pressure while dealing with all the stress of COVID and health issues and all the rest. Hold times are long. People are trying.

    Please don’t call and yell at people. Don’t hang up and try again and again, you just go to the back of the q. Don’t get mad that your account says a word you don’t like. Lots of states are entirely unprepared just like lots of other companies and doing the best they can.

    Please don’t call to be reassured that you are doing it right. Just go back and check online later.

    At least in my state everyone is working intensely to make sure people get paid if they are eligible. But it’s hard. It’s really hard, we are tired, we are doing the best we can.

  17. Marzipan*

    My brother said his boss had a meeting with him where he said he wanted to cut his pay in half. My brother was like “no, you have to fire me, then.” And his boss was like “we’ll revisit this next month”. My brother says his boss never fires anyone, because he didn’t want to pay unemployment. So now I’m wondering if cutting your pay in half counts as constructive dismissal? A page I read seemed to indicate that constructive dismissal is only for severe harassment, but it’s not harassment it’s just… making it nearly impossible for him to work there? It’s not under minimum wage (he didn’t give me numbers but he was not being paid a lot or anything before this) but still that feels fairly egregious?

    1. Picard*

      still legal as long as its not retroactive and as long as your brother doesnt have an employment contract (rare in the US)

      1. Count Boochie Flagrante*

        Constructive dismissal isn’t the same as illegal. Something can be perfectly legal but still count as CD for the purposes of unemployment — things like a major reduction in pay, complete change of responsibilities, etc.

    2. Natalie*

      It’s going to depend on the state but in mine it would count as constructive dismissal for UI.

  18. OdoLicious*

    Do companies pay a set amount into unemployment? Just wondering how much an employer usually puts in.

    My husband’s work is talking about laying everyone off to get them on UI, but have them still come to work until business picks back up. This is illegal, isn’t it?

    1. Bex*

      Yeah, that sounds highly sketchy. If they’re doing layoffs, then do layoffs. But don’t “lay-off” and tell people to still show up.

      And yes. Employers pay into UI claims and funds.

    2. Ali G*

      My understanding is it is a percentage of the total salaries, however if you lay a lot of people off, or have a lot of turnover in general, your rates will be higher.
      If they lay your husband off and then “require” him to come back, they will have to rehire him. They can’t be both on staff and qualify for unemployment benefits.

    3. WellRed*

      You cannot legally work and collect unemployment. That is considered FRAUD and you can be prosecuted for it. The company should be reported if they try and pull this shit.

    4. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      It’s not a set amount.

      You pay a percentage based on the wages you pay plus your “rate” depending on your recent history of IE clams.

      Some industries have very little turnover and therefore low low rates, some have higher fire ratios and therefore higher percentages.

      I’m confused by this shenanigans they are proposing. Are they saying “Go collect unemployment and then come work for free!” *tilts head* That’s how I’m reading it.

      You can actually work and get unemployment but it has to be all reported and does correctly. As Alison’s post is about, you can claim partial unemployment and still be working. But you cannot just claim unemployment and go shuttle back to work and do it for freebies on the government/insurance dime. That’s gonna cook the heck outta that company’s books.

      1. OdoLicious*

        I’m hoping it was someone talking out of their backside…but yes, they want to keep the biz afloat (brewery) but drastically reduce wages. I told my husband this was fraud – I hope to get some clarification tomorrow.

      2. Natalie*

        Depends on the state (as always), in some states the employer pays claims directly. My state allows that for certain industries (specifically NFP) even though the typical route is a UI tax based on salary.

        Our state will not be using this Covid19 related layoffs to calculate the future tax rate but I’m not sure how widespread that policy is. Our UI trust fund is healthy so we can float it for a while.

    5. fhqwhgads*

      Are you sure it wasn’t a miscommunication and they meant come back to work after business picks back up? Not trying to defend them. Obviously you know more details than we do, as-phrased it sounds almost backwards.

    6. Bilateralrope*

      Sounds like a good way to get the business sued over unpaid wages. Or worse, for an employee to use the threat of a lawsuit to make any disciplinary action go away.

    7. doreen*

      You can work and collect unemployment under certain conditions – but they involve telling the truth. My husband once worked for a non-chain hardware store, and when business was bad, the owner wanted to lay him off so he could collect unemployment but also have him work a couple of days a week off the books . This had the advantages of 1) my husband’s income wouldn’t drop and 2) the owner would have him a couple of days a week. The disadvantage is that it would have been fraud if my husband went along with it.

  19. Spek*

    On a related track, for those of us lucky enough to be able to work from home: save your receipts for office chairs, new mouse, monitor, etc. You can write them off as home office deductions at tax time next year (along with portions of your internet & phone service)

    1. Lifelong student*

      Maybe- home office deductions have lots of restrictions-must be for the conveinence of the employer not the employee- and unreimbursed business expenses are no longer deductible- plus even when they were itemized deductions had to exceed the standard deduction to have any value.

    2. The Man, Becky Lynch*

      Only if you already itemize your deductions. You won’t be paying enough out for a temporary home office to suddenly be able to itemize most likely.

      Save receipts and talk to your tax preparer when the time comes, it’s always better safe than sorry. But i wouldn’t go so far as to say “you can deduct all these things” without knowing case by case since the more you deduct, the more they dig. Including when you start trying to write off your internet/phone usage and things you split between home and office!

    3. Margaret*

      This deduction (part of the “misc deduction” category on Sch A) went away with the tax reform act. Some states don’t conform (I think in CA it’s still allowed), but the total of that category has to exceed 2% of adjusted gross income before the rest is deductible. It was pretty hard to get deductions under this unless you had a LOT of employee expenses (usually this was traveling sales people) even before the law changed.

  20. I'm a Failure at Unemployment*

    Any thoughts on what to do if you absolutely cannot get through to any site/person to file? If unemployment isn’t retroactive to the date of my furlough, but rather starts the date I successfully file, what am I supposed to do when I literally cannot be successful at filing?

    I’ve been trying consistently since 3:30 p.m. last Thursday afternoon, after being furloughed for at least 2 months from my job at a hotel (occupancy down to ~1% last week). I’ve tried online, at all hours of the day and night, and have called, again during all different operating hours. Online I get the same error which doesn’t even tell me what the problem is [Error 500: org.springframework.web.util.NestedServletException: Request processing failed; nested exception is org.grnds.security.business.service.UniqueUsernameValidationException: Unable to create usernames, index out of bounds]; I’m assuming it’s just totally overwhelmed. When calling I just get a busy signal.

    I am in Illinois, which is only going to see unemployment rise, so I know the site and phone aren’t going to get magically less busy. Does anyone have any thoughts on this that aren’t “just keep trying?”

    1. ArtK*

      The exception you’re seeing tells me that you’re trying to create a user on the system and the user name is already in use. Try a different name!

      1. ArtK*

        Note: The “index out of bounds” *could* indicate a different problem. It shouldn’t make a difference, but try a couple of different browsers.

        1. I'm a Failure at Unemployment*

          Thank you! I did file once like 12 years ago and so now am trying to retrieve my username and password. Any chance you might be able to tell me what the error I see after typing in a new password means? It doesn’t even give the option to retrieve a username, but one step at a time!

          [Error 500: org.springframework.web.util.NestedServletException: Request processing failed; nested exception is java.lang.NullPointerException]

          1. ArtK*

            A NullPointerException is very bad news. It’s a programming error, I’m sorry to say. Is there a “Contact Us” link on the page? Sometimes a message or e-mail or call to the technical people might help.

            1. I’m a Failure at Unemployment*

              Unfortunately there’s no contact information beyond the unemployment number. I’ll just keep trying! Thank you for the help!

    2. Nick J*

      Hi did you ever find a solution to this error? I’m getting the exact same error for 2 days already. It’s something to do with My info because I literally watched my co-workers get through with No issues in front of me on the same computer…I did eventually get through over the phone and filed that way, but even the representative couldn’t get me registered online.. Help!

  21. Skidding to a Stop*

    I am an exempt employee in the hospitality industry in PA. If exempt employees don’t have available PTO to reduce their workable hours they are being told their pay will be cut and to apply for unemployment for partial benefits. This seems like it would negate the exempt status. Is that correct?

  22. Bottlenose Feef*

    I was offered a job (in CA) just before the state issued a shelter-in-place order. I’m not technically employed yet, but I’m thinking about pushing the paperwork through and accepting a zer0-hour schedule. Would that make me eligible for unemployment? I’m fresh out of university, so I don’t have any wages for the past year to meet the base period criteria.

    1. Lifelong student*

      Unless CA has some strange rules ( possible because CA)- you can’t get unemployment if you have no prior employment history!

    2. Jane*

      No, it would not make a difference. California bases your unemployment rate on the highest earning quarter you had in the year ending at the end of the last quarter, so in this case the highest three month quarter in the year leading to last October 1 but if you waited till April 1 it would be the year leading to this January 1.

      If you did not have earnings in that year you won’t be able to collect unemployment.

  23. Kinsley*

    Curious about partial unemployment due to pay cuts due to COVID. My company just issued a 30% pay cut for all full-time employees through at least the end of June. I MUCH prefer this option to lay offs or job loss, but as a salaried, exempt employee, my day-to-day work and hours are not changing, just how much I make to do it. Does this qualify for unemployment?

      1. The Man, Becky Lynch*

        20% shouldn’t be enough of a cut to be eligible but you may still want to try?

        We once cut back by exactly that, 20%, and they weren’t eligible but it’ll depend state to state and if there’s any special rulings in place in your area, etc.

    1. WellRed*

      Probably not. Even with your paycut, you probably still make more than what UI would pay you and the benefit isn’t there to make up salaries unless your salary goes below that threshhold in which case you may be able to collect the difference (varies by state).

  24. AnOh*

    Thank you for posting this!!
    As someone who works in HR, I’ve seen many posts all over from people who had hours cut but not fired who are upset they can’t file for unemployment and I try to inform them when I see it. Of course this probably varies state by state but being in Ohio, I know that this is ALWAYS the case, even outside of a pandemic. We employ a lot of hourly employees who work project to project so once a project ends, it can be 2-3 weeks before they get another project and they sit with zero hours during that time period. I always have to remind people they’re able to collect UI during this time even though they’re still technically employed y us.

  25. MOAS*

    I logged on to NY UI website. I had collected UI before this job in late 2014, so it took me right to the screen where I filed my weekly claim. It looked familiar to what I was filling out weekly.

    I read through the website but I’m not 100% sure if I need to file a new claim due to my wages changing or just file as normal and the system would pull up my new information. In 2014 I was making min wage, so my weekly amount was like $100 or so, if I do the calculation now based on gross wages from the last year, it should be $500 a week).
    Technically I’m still working so I guess I’ll just keep an eye and be prepared.

  26. Princesa Zelda*

    Can you collect UI if you have multiple part time jobs? Job #1 is paying leave, but Job #2 (where I’m a temp) isn’t. It’s also my understanding that temps can’t usually file for UI, even though I’m a W-2 employee of the staffing company; is that so? I’m in Arizona, but my employer is in Michigan.

  27. Fake Old Converse Shoes (not in the US)*

    We’re having a different issue here where I live. We had a holiday on April 2nd, and the President “moved” it to March 31st and declared March 30th holiday as well to enforce mandatory quarantine. The problem is the “new holidays” are not on my job’s time recording system, which means either
    A) I’ll have to work as usual at my normal rate instead of the double pay that I deserve for working on such a day
    B) We don’t work but we don’t get paid either, since the system will consider it an unjustified absence.
    We’re trying to reach our employer, but they’re not available right now.

    1. Bilateralrope*

      A sudden change to public holidays like that is bound to catch employers by surprise.

      I’d suggest you work those days, while documenting everything with the plan to get your employer to fix your pay afterwards.

  28. E*

    I’m a student who works part time and I don’t qualify for any benefits even though I got laid off and still have bills to pay!

  29. student worker*

    Does anyone know if federal work-study employees are eligible? I’m a college student in Illinois, and my university closed because of the virus beginning last week. I’m technically still employed by the school but I can’t go in to work right now. I also know that requirements are different for students (I once worked eight hours on a federal holiday and my boss went in to change my timecard because students apparently can’t earn time and a half.) If anyone knows anything about this I would appreciate it!

    1. doreen*

      I’m guessing not, for a few reasons. One is because typically a work- study student won’t meet the other requirements – for example , in my state, you must have earned wages in two of the four quarters of the base period. You must have earned at least $2600 in the highest paid quarter and the total earnings for the base period must be 1.5 times the highest quarter. That means you had to have a work study award of at least $3900 for that base year – you won’t be eligible if your work-study award was $2000 for the year or if it was $4000 for the year and you earned $1000 each quarter.

      And I just found this -“Unemployment insurance laws in states like Illinois explicitly prohibit student employees from unemployment compensation, since these students already receive government-subsidized funds toward their educational expenses.” Check on this, but it wouldn’t surprise me if it’s accurate and many states have such a rule.

  30. jeweled tortoise*

    I am on a W2 through my retail job, which I only work sporadically when my performing career is at a slow ebb. COVID has essentially axed every show I have for the next…I don’t know? So I hoped to work retail, when they emailed saying they were laying off most people.

    Only…I haven’t been officially laid off, just not given hours. Does Alison’s advice apply to me, since I only work sporadically? I was counting on these hours for the next several months, but I don’t work there full time. I’m confused…

  31. nep*

    I didn’t make enough at my part-time job to qualify.
    Best wishes to those trying to file–I hope it works out for you and soonest.

  32. Laurel*

    Any ideas on what Lyft/Uber drivers can do? My husband usually drives for Lyft but doesn’t feel comfortable/can’t since our state is one with shelter in place now.

    1. Jane*

      I have not heard of any good options, other than food stamps. There may be other things out there, and I’m sorry I can’t be more helpful.

  33. Mim*

    How do you not apply retroactively if you don’t know how many hours of work you “missed” until the week is over?

  34. Elizabeth West*

    This is pretty much what OldExjob did during the Great Recession. They cut hours in the two manufacturing plants, but the employees who were furloughed received benefits. It allowed them to avoid layoffs. When things got better, all the employees came back to work. Because they were skilled workers doing custom manufacturing, the company wanted to keep them rather than train a bunch of new people and wait for them to catch up later.

    Here, it was called the Shared Work Unemployment Compensation Program. If you’re a W-2 employee and your state has it, your company should be able to do this. I don’t know what the requirements are, but your state’s unemployment office would know.

  35. Jen*

    My salaried, exempt (literally paid the exact minimum dollar amount annually to qualify me as exempt in my city so any reduction in salary would take me out of the exempt category) job just started me at 40% salary this week working from home as we are required to close our retail location, with the explicit communication that our state’s “shared work” for cut hours unemployment would cover at least some of the rest. However, my boss just let me know that he is expecting me to work three full days a week – 60% hours not 40. Is this legal? It feels really shady…

  36. rfleming*

    Filing Partial Unemployment when I have two jobs and am still employed by my primary

    Question – i work as a bartender 2 nights a week and claim $19,000 a year – I am still working at home from my primary job but have lost 1/3 of my net income by the restaurant closure for COVID

    If I am still employed full time at my Primary office job will filing unemployment for my restaurant job affect my full time employer? My FT owner is a legitimate saint and I would not want to affect his business at all ( especially since he is paying us in full when we don’t have incoming business – promotional product and event supplies ) does anyone have insight?

  37. Cpie*

    Husband applied for unemployment in WI due to being let go from the restaurant for covid-19 purposes. The application says under review for two previous jobs before his current one. One where he and the manager agreed to part ways and another where he was terminated for made up disciplinary reasons. Is this still going to affect his unemployment being accepted?

  38. Mannheim Steamroller*

    This is helpful for those who work at companies that plan to “seize” their workers’ coronavirus stimulus checks (by cutting everyone’ hours).

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