In the last few years, many in the American workforce have gotten reduced working hours or have been laid off, primarily as a result of the global pandemic. Although the economy is recovering, businesses are stretching funds to stay afloat. And human resources are, unfortunately, the first costs to be cut.
Unemployment benefits may help in the situation. However, many want to take on part-time work wherever they can to make ends meet. That said, the prospect of losing unemployment benefits may deter some from pursuing these opportunities.
Which brings us to the question… can you collect unemployment if you work part-time?
Well, the answer is yes and no, depending on the circumstances.
- How Do Unemployment Benefits Work?
- I Have a Part-Time Job – Do I Lose My Benefits?
- What Counts as Part-Time?
- How to Apply for Unemployment Benefits?
- In-between Jobs or Looking for Part-Time Work?
How Do Unemployment Benefits Work?
Let’s first get an understanding of how unemployment benefits work. You only qualify for unemployment if you lost your income through no fault of your own. This means that if you resigned or were fired for legitimate reasons such as theft or misconduct, you will not qualify.
In some companies, when misconduct occurs, the nuances in the case often open up the possibility for an employee to pursue legal action for unfair dismissal. This is because they would be unable to collect unemployment.
This would cost companies time, money, and the risk of a public scandal. Employers often circumvent the situation by offering a severance package, usually with an agreement that the employee sign a letter of resignation instead.
Qualifying for Unemployment
Lay-offs, extended periods of illness beyond paid sick leave, and company-ordered reduced hours are examples of times when you can collect unemployment benefits. The idea is to offer you an income to make up for lost wages.
However, it is not an automatic process. Many states have different standards for how long or what percentage of your income they will pay you. To qualify, you will also have to prove that you are indeed pursuing other work unless you are ill and can resume work after some time.
Once you have secured a new job, you must inform the unemployment department. Otherwise, it will be considered fraud. But more on that later.
Of course, there is also one more catch…
To qualify for unemployment, you will have to have been working for long enough to be eligible. For example, the state of New York requires you worked for at least 12 months before submitting the claim. For other states, this period may be longer.
I Have a Part-Time Job – Do I Lose My Benefits?
This is where it gets tricky. As mentioned, you have to report when you get a new job. That is so you do not receive undue unemployment benefits. However, if your former position was full-time, and your new position is only part-time, there is still a loss of income.
Your former hourly pay versus your new hourly pay will also affect the total of what you are entitled to. In this instance, you could still claim benefits. But, you will be required to report your hours worked and monies earned so that your benefit covers the loss of income proportionately.
Our initial question was, “can you collect unemployment if you work part-time?” And, as I mentioned, the answer is yes and no. One reason it may be no is if you only lost a part-time position and have found another. As a result, you may no longer be able to claim benefits at all.
What Counts as Part-Time?
Your workday may stretch to eight-hour shifts, or you may work six days a week. But, you are only considered a full-time employee if your job requires you to work over 40 hours per week. If you work less than 40 hours per week, you are considered a part-time employee.
Many companies in retail require shops to open early and close late. This requires multiple shifts. To manage employees over all the opening hours, companies often employ workers part-time. This is so there’s an even division of the shifts among full-time and part-time employees.
Workers in goods and receiving may have full-time 9:00 am to 5:00 pm, week-day positions. But, the cashiers are divided into two part-time shifts. That way, customers can be served from 8:00 am to 8:00 pm.
How to Apply for Unemployment Benefits?
First, you have to make sure that you qualify for unemployment benefits. You can search your state unemployment benefits website for information to ensure that you meet all the unemployment requirements.
Once you are sure you are eligible, you will need to submit some supporting documents. This will include digital copies of your social security card, ID, and payslips. Most importantly, you need a letter or notice from your employer. This is to verify that you are no longer working there, have reduced hours, or that you are on extended sick leave.
Some states will allow you to submit these electronically to file your claim with a login account. However, some may require you to give them the originals in person. Then, they will make photocopies or scan them there.
Online Application and Reporting
However, since the pandemic, many states have forgone the requirement for you to apply in person. Therefore, their websites will indicate whether or not that is the case.
After filing an unemployment claim, you should log in to the website to track your claim status. Also, you will have to report on your hours and wages, as they will not follow up with you. Furthermore, they may only notice after your deductibles are paid from your wages. By then, you may be considered fraudulent for omitting the information regarding your income.
In-between Jobs or Looking for Part-Time Work?
We can help with that. Have a look at our handy articles on 20 Part-Time Jobs That Pay More than $20 Per Hour, 15 Part-Time Jobs That Pay More Than $40 per Hour, What To Do When You Get Laid Off, and Meaning of Terminated vs Laid Off vs Fired for more information.
If you need more details about unemployment benefits, check out Jobless: Navigating the Unemployment Benefits System, Unemployment Benefits in the United States, Unlocking Unemployment Benefits, and Income Security.
Also, you can find out about great part-time work with Work from Home, Part Time Work from Home, The Best Work-From-Home Jobs For 2020, Work-From-Home Jobs, and 100+ REAL Work from Home Jobs, all of which are currently available online.
Remember – unemployment benefits are only granted for a few months and are not a long-term solution.
If you get the opportunity to take a position that pays more or guarantees more hours than your current part-time position, take it. Do not let it slip by for the sake of a few months of unemployment benefits.
Until next time, work smarter, not just harder.