Unemployment compensation, also commonly referred to as unemployment insurance (UI), is a government sponsored and administered benefits program that provides financial support to qualified unemployed workers. The federal government and states manage the program together and fund it with taxes collected from employers. Every state has different rules and regulations, but the following information provides a general overview of unemployment compensation benefits.
Every state's rules vary, but in general, qualified employees must meet the following conditions in order to receive unemployment compensation benefits in their state:
Part-time workers and temporary workers may qualify if able to meet the conditions of their state.
When the Employee is Fired
Depending on the circumstances, a terminated employee may still qualify for unemployment compensation benefits. An employee termination for financial reasons, for unintentional actions, or because of a layoff, for example, may not exclude an employee from receiving benefits. On the other hand, if an employer fires an employee for misconduct that was deliberate and repeated, it will disqualify the employee in most states. Common types of misconduct include:
Misconduct does not include behavior that amounts only to poor performance like carelessness, lack of skill, or errors made in good faith.
When the Employee Quits
An employee that quits a job is typically ineligible for unemployment compensation unless it was for "good cause." Most states define good cause as a condition that would have resulted in harm or injury if the employee did not quit. Good cause usually includes the following:
In most states, good cause for quitting a job excludes such reasons as career advancement or job dissatisfaction.
Filing a Unemployment Compensation Claim
To receive unemployment benefits, an unemployed worker must file a claim with the agency in their state that handles the requests. The following steps apply:
Unemployment Compensation Benefits
An employee with a successful claim is entitled to unemployment benefits. Every state has different calculation methods, but unemployment benefits are typically less than the compensation the employee received when employed. This is because the benefit amount is usually based on a percentage of the employee's earnings during a certain period. An eligible worker can receive benefits for 26 weeks. However, if eligible for legislative extensions, the employee may receive up to an additional 20 weeks of benefits. Be sure to verify duration of receiving UI benefits with your state unemployment agency.
Eligible for Unemployment? Get Legal Help With Your Claim
Unemployment benefits can be vital when you're between jobs. If you've applied and been denied unemployment benefits, you'll want to explore your options and understand the laws. You can start by speaking with an experienced employment law attorney in your area.
Contact a qualified employment attorney to make sure your rights are protected.